Messi beats Ronaldo in 2019 Forbes rich list

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Lead Forbes Highest Paid Athlete List

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has been named the world's highest-paid athlete for the first time, earning $US127 million ($182 million) in the past year.

The annual top 100 list complied by Forbes Magazine features 10 sports and athletes from 25 different countries.

The Barcelona and Argentina star earned $127m in the a year ago - more than Juventus forward Ronaldo ($109m) in second place and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar ($105m) in third.

However, McGregor not only kept his status as the highest earner from the sport of mixed martial arts, he was also the only MMA fighter to make it into the Top 100.

Canelo, who defeated Gennady Golovkin last September to become the unified middleweight champion, inked a very lucrative deal last October, signing a five-year 11-fight contract with streaming network DAZN worth $365 million. The 25-year-old earned NZ$36.7 million in salary, with an additional NZ$4.6 million in endorsements.

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Messi is one of 38 non-American athletes on the list, with 62 U.S. stars in the top 100.

Messi was one of 38 non-American athletes on the list, with 62 USA stars in the top 100.

Brazilian PSG star Neymar ($105 million) completed a hat-trick of footballers at the top of Forbes' list, listed at number three despite earning $10 million more in salary/winnings than the Portuguese star.

"But basketball players continue to dominate the top 100 overall with 35 athletes on the list earning a total of $1.29 billion, with 72% of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals".

Stars from the National Football League and NBA rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth on $89.5m, just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers ($89.3m).

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