Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi world's highest-paid athletes for 2016

Written By Chris Myson
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Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's highest-paid athlete, according to the 2016 edition of Forbes' annual list.

The highest-paid American athlete? LeBron James, who was third in annual compensation.

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Only two women made the salary list's top 100: Serena Williams, at No. 40; and Maria Sharapova, at No. 88. Sharapova tumbled after admitting to using a banned substance that this week drew a two-year suspension from women's tennis.

Ronaldo, of European soccer club Real Madrid, was paid $88 million up to June 1, 2016, with $56 million in salary and $32 million in endorsements. Second on the list: Argentina soccer star Lionel Messi.

It is the first time since 2000 that neither boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. nor golfer Tiger Woods topped the list. Mayweather is retired but reportedly is seeking a fight against mixed martial arts headliner Conor McGregor. He was 2015's highest-paid athlete. Woods continues to struggle with health issues and has not won a major golf tournament in eight years.

Woods was 12th.

Also a soccer standout, Messi was paid $81.4 million over the past 12 months

James earned more than the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in endorsements ($54 million), although his $23.2 million salary was dwarfed by the wages of Ronaldo and Messi ($53.4m).

Basketball had three players in the top 10 — more than any other sport — with Kevin Durant ($56.2 million) fifth and Kobe Bryant ($50 million) in 10th.

Baseball did not have a representative in the top 10, but was the most prolific in the first 100 with 26 players listed. The NFL was next with 21, topped by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ($53.1 million) in seventh spot.

Jordan Spieth (ninth at $52.8 million) was the biggest mover in the list, surging from 85th last year after capitalizing on his two major wins in 2015.

Forbes' top 10 highest-paid athletes:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer; $88 million
2. Lionel Messi, soccer; $81.4 million
3. LeBron James, NBA; $77.2 million
4. Roger Federer, tennis; $67.8 million
5. Kevin Durant, NBA; $56.2 million
6. Novak Djokovic, tennis; $55.8 million
7. Cam Newton, NFL; $53.1 million
8. Phil Mickelson, golf; $52.9 million
9. Jordan Spieth, golf; $52.8 million
10. Kobe Bryant, NBA; $50 million

Other American athletes in the top 25:

12. Woods, $45.3 million
13. Eli Manning, NFL; $45 million
14. Joe Flacco, NFL; $44.5 million
15. Tom Brady, NFL; $44.1 million
16. Mayweather, $44 million
18. Russell Wilson, NFL; $41.8 million
20. Philip Rivers, NFL; $28 million

Baseball's highest-paid player was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, whose $31.2 million income placed him at No. 33 on the list.

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