Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli is among the world’s highest-paid athletes, earning a whopping USD 24 million, according to a Forbes’ compilation. The list was topped by American boxing champion Floyd Mayweather. Kohli is the only sportsperson from India to be featured in the list.
Surprisingly, the ‘World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2018′ compilation is an all-male affair with no women being featured in the list.
29-year-old Kohli, 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.
This year the Indian national cricket board ‘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 USD 1 million, it said.
“… Kohli’s big payday comes off the pitch” where he’s partnered with top brands such as Puma, Pepsi, Audi and Oakley,” Forbes said.
The ‘World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2018′ list is topped by 41-year-old Mayweather, with USD 285 million earnings. Mayweather has topped the list fourth time in seven years, thanks to a multimillion dollars payday for his August boxing match against UFC star Conor McGregor.
However, there are no women on the list. Forbes said tennis’ female sportspersons 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 USD 8 million to USD 62,000 this year after she gave birth to her daughter, Alexis, 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.
Meanwhile, among other sport stars, Argentinean footballer Lionel Messi is ranked second in the list, followed by Portugal soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s annual salary and bonus exceeded USD 80 million, making him the highest-paid player on the pitch this year. He ranks second overall with USD 111 million, including USD 27 million through endorsement deals with Adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi and Huawei. Ronaldo’s USD 108 million haul over the past 12 months trails only Mayweather and Messi.
Brazilian soccer player Neymar is the third soccer star in the top five. He jumps 13 spots to fifth with an income of USD 90 million, including USD 19 million from endorsement partners.
Others on the list are American basketball player LeBron James (6), Tennis star Roger Federer (7), golfer Tiger Woods (16), tennis player Rafael Nadal (20) and golfer Rory McIlroy (26).
The top 100 has an international flavour with athletes from 22 countries, but Americans dominate the action 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.
(With inputs from PTI)