New York: Virat Kohli is among the world’s highest-paid athletes, with the India cricket captain earning $24 million, according to a Forbes’ compilation topped by American boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Surprisingly, the ‘world’s highest-paid athletes 2018’ compilation is an all-male affair with no women being making the list. Kohli, the only sportsperson from India to be featured in the list, is ranked 83rd with earnings of $24 million.
Kohli, 29, is not just cricket-crazy India’s biggest name but is also one of the most popular athletes in the world, “boasting more Twitter followers (25 million-plus) than all but three active sports stars", Forbes said.
The ‘world’s highest-paid athletes 2018’ list is topped by 41-year-old Mayweather Jr., with $285 million earnings. This year the Board of Control for Cricket in India’ named Kohli as one of just five players to receive the newly-created A+ contracts, which guarantee an annual retainer of more than $1 million, Forbes said. “Yet like the Indian cricket mega-stars who have come before him, Kohli’s big payday comes off the pitch" where he’s partnered with top brands such as Puma, Pepsi, Audi and Oakley, the magazine said.
No woman made the list. Forbes said tennis’ female stars Li Na, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams were list regulars but Li retired in 2014 and Sharapova is still dealing with the aftermath of a 15-month suspension for using a banned substance. Williams was the only woman to feature in the top 100 last year, but her prize money dropped from $8 million to $62,000 this year after she gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., in September.
This year 40 NBA players made the cut in Forbes’ annual look at the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes, breaking the record of 32 set last year by hoopsters. Mayweather Jr. heads the world’s highest-paid athletes for the fourth time in seven years, thanks to a $275 million payday for his August boxing match against UFC star Conor McGregor.
NBA’s top earner LeBron James banked $85.5 million, including endorsements, over the last 12 months to rank sixth among the highest-paid athletes. Argentine footballer Lionel Messi is ranked second in the list, followed by Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s annual salary and bonus exceeded $80 million, making him the highest-paid player on the pitch this year. He ranks second overall with $111 million, including $27 million through endorsement deals with Adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi and Huawei.
Ronaldo’s $108 million haul over the past 12 months trails only Mayweather Jr. and Messi. Brazil international Neymar is the third football star in the top five. He jumps 13 spots to fifth with an income of $90 million, including $19 million from endorsement partners.
Others on the list are tennis star Roger Federer (7), golfer Tiger Woods (16), tennis player Rafael Nadal (20) and golfer Rory McIlroy (26).
Forbes said it was harder than ever to qualify for the 100 highest-paid athletes, with the cutoff up $1.5 million to $22.9 million. The top 100 earned $3.8 billion, a 23% jump over last year. Salaries and prize money are up significantly, but endorsement earnings fell for the second straight year to $ 877 million as companies watch their sports marketing budgets.
The top 100 has an international flavour with athletes from 22 countries, but Americans dominate the list with 66 making the cut thanks to sky-high salaries in baseball, basketball and football. Those three sports had a combined 72 entries, Forbes added.