Top 10 best-paid sports stars of last year with Conor McGregor top and Roger Federer 7th despite £21k tennis earnings

UFC superstar Conor McGregor has fended off competition from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to be named Forbes' highest-paid athlete of the year.

The Notorious takes top spot for the first time after a huge financial year outside of the cage.

McGregor, 32, earned a staggering £128million – despite only having fought once this year.

A whopping £113million of that sum came from the Irishman's selling of his shares in Proper 12 Whiskey.

McGregor claimed top spot ahead of the likes of Dak Prescott and Roger Federer, the latter of whom only made a paltry £21,000 on the court last year.

Forbes' Top Ten Highest-Paid Athletes

  1. Conor McGregor

The former two-division UFC champion banked an estimated £16m ($22m) for his UFC 257 showdown with Dustin Poirier in January.

McGregor's relinquishing of his shares in Proper 12 – which he sold late last month – has made up the bulk of his earnings.


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2. Lionel Messi

The Barcelona hitman earned a staggering £92million last year, with £69m of that sum coming from his lucrative contract with the Catalan club.

Messi pocketed the remaining £23m courtesy of his sponsorship deals with Addidas and Tommy Hilfiger.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner earned an impressive £85m last year, with the lion's share of that figure coming from his big-money deal with Italian champions Juventus.

Ronaldo earned £49m of that sum through his exploits on the pitch, with the remainder of his total earnings being topped up by his endorsement with Nike and his CR7 venture.

4. Dak Prescott

The Dallas Cowboys star pocketed a cool £76m last year, with just shy of £70million of that fee coming from his lucrative contract with Jerry Jones' side.

The remainder of the 27-year-old's income came from his investments in Sleep Number, 7/11 and DirecTV.

5. LeBron James

The NBA legend made just under £70million last year, although the majority of his earnings came courtesy of his off-the-court deals.

James has made a whopping £46m through his contract with Pepsi and his stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns Premier League big boys Liverpool.

6. Neymar

The Paris Saint-Germain forward comes in at No.6 after amassing £67m, with £48m of that sum being earned on the pitch.

The remainder of the samba star's earnings have come from his lucrative deal with PUMA and his collaboration with Fortnite.

7. Roger Federer

Injury prevented Roger Federer from competing for the majority of 2020 and the early embers of 2021. And that has been reflected in the Swiss swinger's earnings.

The tennis legend pocketed £64million, the majority of which came courtesy of his money-spinning sponsorships with Rolex, Credit Suisse and Uniqlo.

Stunningly, Federer only made £21,000 for his efforts on the courts.

8. Sir Lewis Hamilton

The five-time F1 championship winner made bank last year, with the Mercedes star pocketing a cool £58m.

Unsurprisingly, £50m of that sum was made on the track, with his endorsement deals with Tommy Hilfiger, Monster Energy and Puma making up the remaining eight million.

9. Tom Brady

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback may be getting up there in age, but his earning power has shown no signs of slowing down.

Brady, 44, made £54m last year, with the bulk of that sum – £32m to be precise – coming from his contract with the Bucs.

The rest of the NFL legend's earnings came courtesy of his virtual guest speaker and commercial pitchman roles, as well as his deals with Christopher Cloos and Fanatics.


10. Kevin Durant

KD spent the majority of the 2019-20 NBA season on the sidelines through injury, but that didn't stop him from taking home the big bucks.

Durant used his time out to focus on becoming a media mogul, with his off-the-court endeavours helping him pocket a cool £53m.

£31m of the former Boston Celtics ace's earnings came off the court, with the remainder coming from his contract with the Brooklyn Nets.

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