Creative Soccer Culture

Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes First $1 Billion Football Earner

According to a new report from Forbes, Cristiano Ronaldo has become football’s first billion-dollar earner, making him only the third athlete in history to hit the mark while still playing.

Cristiano Ronaldo earned $105 million before taxes and fees in the past year, landing him at No. 4 on the 2020 Forbes Celebrity 100, one spot above his top rival in the sport, Lionel Messi, and making him the first football player in history to earn $1 billion across his playing career. The 35 year old joined Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather as the only athletes to reach billionaire status while still competing.

Ronaldo, the first to reach the earnings milestone in a team sport, has made $650 million on the pitch during his 17 years as a pro and is expected to reach $765 million in career salary with his current contract, which ends in June 2022. By contrast, Messi, who began playing at the senior level three years after Ronaldo, has earned a total of $605 million in salary since 2005.

But away from the pitch, it’s no contest when it comes to leveraging their celebrity status. In January, Ronaldo became the first person with 200 million followers on Instagram, and that’s just part of the 427 million followers that he has across various social media platforms, making him easily the most popular athlete on the planet. With the Portuguese able to charge nearly $1 million per post on Instagram, it's no wonder his earnings are so high. Combine that with roughly $20 million annually he's paid by Nike for his lifetime deal that he signed in 2016 – a deal that made him just the third athlete, after Michael Jordan and LeBron James, to sign for the Swoosh for eternity – and you start to see how he has accumulated his vast wealth.

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All that money, but is he really happy? Yes, yes he is.

Ronaldo will be back in action on 20 June when Serie A resumes.

Daniel Jones

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