Conor McGregor tops Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes

Despite a global pandemic, four athletes raked in more than $100 million in earnings over the past year, led by UFC star Conor McGregor.

In Forbes' annual list of the highest-paid athletes, McGregor leads the way at $180 million, much of which the magazine notes comes from his sale of his majority stake in whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve. That sale helped him become just the third active athlete, after Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, to earn more than $70 million in one year from outside activities.

(McGregor made the top 10 once before, in 2018, after his pay-per-view fight against boxer Floyd Mayweather.)

Conor McGregor made an estimated $22 million in his return to the Octagon this past January, but raked in another $158 million in endorsements and investments over the past 12 months. (Photo: John Locher, AP)

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Longtime soccer rivals Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo waged yet another spirited competition for second place with Messi coming out on top at $130 million. However, Ronaldo had the edge in off-field earnings, which accounted for $50 million of his $120 million total.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was the final member of the $100 million club, raking in a total of $107.5 million — due in large part to the $66 million signing bonus contained in his new four-year contract extension.

The NBA's LeBron James, soccer's Neymar and perennial favorite Federer all topped the $90 million mark. Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady and NBA All-Star Kevin Durant rounded out the top 10. 

Forbes' highest-paid athletes 

(May 1, 2020 to May 1, 2021)

1. Conor McGregor (UFC) $180 million

2. Lionel Messi (soccer), $130 million

3. Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer), $120 million

4. Dak Prescott (NFL), $107.5 million

5. LeBron James (NBA), $96.5 million

6. Neymar (soccer), $95 million

7. Roger Federer (tennis), $90 million

8. Lewis Hamilton (F1), $82 million

9. Tom Brady (NFL), $76 million

10. Kevin Durant (NBA), $75 million

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