Roger Federer leads the 2020 Forbes magazine list of highest-paid global athletes announced on Friday, leading the lineup for the first time with $106.3 million (95.5 million euros) pre-tax earnings. Whereas, India’s cricket team captain, Virat Kohli remains the only cricketer in the list and he climbed up to 66th spot from being 100th in 2019.
The Swiss tennis legend, a men’s record 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, has become the first player from his spot atop the annual list since his debut in 1990, rising from the fifth position in 2019. In the past 12 months, Federer’s earnings included $100 million from the appearance fees and sponsorship deals plus $6.3 million in prize money. His best showing previously was second in 2013.
California sports business professor David Carter told the magazine that Federer’s brand in pristine. He said, “His brand is pristine, which is why those that can afford to align with him clamor to do so.” The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that shut down sports around the world caused the first decline since 2016 in the total revenue of the 100 top-paid athletes worldwide, a 9 percent decline from last year to $3.6 billion. The shutdown is expected to take another plunge next year.
Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo was second on the list at $105 million, $60 million in salary and $45 million in endorsements, with Argentine football hero Lionel Messi third on $104 million, of which $32 million was sponsorship deals.
Messi and Ronaldo, who swapped the top spot three of the past four years, saw their combined profits fall from last year by $28 million due to salary cuts when European clubs stopped playing in March.
Brazilian footballer Neymar was fourth overall on $95.5 million, $25 million from endorsements, while Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA star LeBron James was fifth on $88.2 million, $60 million from endorsements.