Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo
Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo named the world's top-earning athlete

CRISTIANO Ronaldo has become the first soccer star to top Forbes' list of the world's highest-paid athletes.

The Real Madrid and Portugal star has become only the second athlete in a team sport, behind the retired basketball legend Michael Jordan, to top the list.

Ronaldo, 31, claimed the top spot with annual earnings of $88 million (£61 million), with as much as $32 million coming through endorsements deals, which includes a lucrative partnership with the sports manufacturer Nike.

Ronaldo - who has 43 million followers on Twitter and 112 million 'likes' on Facebook - also has his own range of cologne and menswear.

He reportedly earns as much as $50 million per year from Real Madrid, the team he joined from Manchester United in 2009.

The record-breaking star topped the list ahead of another Spanish-based soccer star, Lionel Messi of Barcelona, who reportedly boasts earnings of just over $81 million per year.

Meanwhile, US basketball star LeBron James - who is set to star in the long-awaited 'Space Jam 2' movie - makes $77.2 million per year.

He is followed on the list by tennis ace Roger Federer and fellow basketball star Kevin Durant, who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA.

However, Ronaldo's position at the top of the list has been helped enormously by the retirement of American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., who previously was the top-earning athlete in the world.

Added to this, Floyd's long-time rival Manny Pacquiao has also recently retired from the sport, while golf legend Tiger Woods has suffered with form and injury problems over the last few years, which has inhibited his earning potential.

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