Virat Kohli sole Indian in Forbes's list of world's highest-paid athletes

Football player Cristiano Ronaldo retains top spot in the annual ranking of 100 sports icons

Published: Jun 8, 2017

Starting out as a newswire journalist covering beats as diverse as business, politics, entertainment, crime, civic affairs, cricket and defence, I was keen to pursue a career in print or broadcast journalism. But the emerging world of multimedia storytelling promised a fascinating future, and I changed my focus to digital media more than a decade ago. Before Forbes India, I have worked for organisations such as ANI, Money Control, Arabian Business, Yahoo India and VFS Global. I hold master's degrees in Communication Studies (University of Pune, India) and Journalism (University of Westminster, London, UK).

mg_96973_viratkohli_bg_280x210.jpgVirat Kohli
Image: Shailesh Andrade / Reuters

Indian cricket captain, Virat Kohli has made it to the Forbes’s latest list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes.

Ranked at No 89, Kohli is the only Indian on the list, which is topped by football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The 28-year-old batting sensation earned $22 million over the last 12 months; $3 million through salary and winnings, and $19 million through brand endorsements.

However, Kohli’s earnings are less than one-fourth of Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, who earned $93 million in the same period, retaining the top rank for the second consecutive year.

Forbes earnings figures include all salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017.  Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income for the 12 months through June 1 based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders.

ALSO READ: The age of Virat Kohli

However, the earnings do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, nor include investment income.  The list includes only athletes active in the last 12 months.

“Massive TV contracts are fueling bigger salaries across team sports, pushing the entry level to qualify for the top 100 athletes higher than ever, but the retirement of several prolific endorsers like Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant dented sponsorship income this year,” said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor, Forbes Media.

The list of elite athletes consists of players from 11 different sports.  Basketball dominates the list with a record 32 NBA players among the top 100, up from 18 in 2016, followed by baseball with 22 players, football with 15 and soccer with 9.

Basketball player LeBron James ($86.2 million) was ranked at No 2, ahead of football icon Lionel Messi ($53 million). Rounding out the top five highest-paid athletes, tennis star Roger Federer ($64 million) and another basketball player, Kevin Durant ($60.6 million).

The top 100 earned a total of $3.11 billion over the last 12 months, a slight decrease from last year’s earnings of $3.15 billion.  Endorsement income also experienced a bit of a decline, down 4 percent to $887 million this year. Cost of admission to the 2017 list is the highest ever at $21.4 million, up $600,000 from the previous year.

Click here to view Forbes’s 2017 List of The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes

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