Sport’s billionaires, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Floyd Mayweather, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan – The Sun

THERE'S a very exclusive sporting club into which even someone as famous as Lionel Messi has only recently gained entry – alongside rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

You need the profile of a global superstar, a mountain of trophies and enough appeal to have sponsors trampling over themselves to get to you.

Oh, and a billion in the bank.

Portuguese icon Ronaldo recently became football's first billionaire after making £85million last year.

And he was eventually joined by Messi after Forbes revealed their rich list for 2020.

Messi is said to haved pocket £98million in total last year from his salary and endorsements.

Here, SunSport runs down every sporting star to have had three commas in their bank accounts.

They have all hit the billion dollar earnings mark at some point in their careers, but a couple have seen their profits dip since then…

Lionel Messi

The Argentine star raked in £1.15m-a-week  while at Barcelona, and although he may have endured a difficult year on the pitch his bank balance continued to thrive.

The global star raked in a whopping £98m and it is little surprise with six Ballon d'or titles to his name.

As well as being sponsored by the likes of Adidas and Pepsi, Messi has just released a limited edition Budweiser beer.

He also earns around £175,000-a-week on image rights and £250,000-a-week in bonuses.

Messi had a house fit for a king – valued at £5.5m and situated 12 miles away from the Nou Camp.

The Argentina also dabbles in hotels having purchased one for £26m in the coastal town of Sitges.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portuguese sensation, 36, made £85m from wages and endorsement deals in 2019, pushing him into the billions for career earnings.

That increased in 2020, pocketing £91m according to Forbes' latest information.

Former Real Madrid star Ronaldo has pocketed over £500m during his career from wages alone.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has stayed at the top of his game for so long due to a legendary work ethic, a strict diet which includes 'magic' chicken and a brutal training regime.

He also naps five times a day.

Ronaldo boasts a £16m car collection, which he is reported to have added to last year when he splurged £8.5m on a limited edition Bugatti Centodieci – of which only 10 have been made.

He also dabbles in property.

Reports last year claimed the dad of four is building a £7m mansion in Quinta da Marinha on the so-called Portuguese Riviera, for when he retires.

This came after purchasing the most expensive flat ever sold in Lisbon in 2019 – a £6.5 million property that includes a gym and indoor swimming pool.

Ronaldo, who is the most followed person on Instagram with 223 million, is sponsored by Nike, Herbalife, DAZN and Unilever among others.

Tiger Woods

Before his sex scandal downfall and years in the wilderness due to injury, surgeries and an unforgettable mugshot for driving under the influence, Woods was a sponsor's dream.

He and Federer remain the only active athletes to ever break the $100m (£80m) mark for earnings from sponsorships in a single year.

Woods became a billionaire in 2009, according to Forbes – just before his world came crashing down.

The golfer lost a bunch of big-time backers including the likes of Gillette and American Express after he crashed his car into a three on Thanksgiving in 2009.

Dozens of women came forward claiming to have had relations with the 15-time major champ, leading to an £80m divorce from ex-wife Elin Nordegren.

And many thought his career was over after he was found slumped at the wheel of his Mercedes in 2017.

But he has bounced back to the top of the game after having career-saving spinal fusion surgery and won The Masters last year.

Notoriously frugal – friends say he is an awful tipper – Woods has splashed cash on his epic £41m Florida mansion.

The dad of two also has a £15m yacht called Privacy and some of his big sponsors include Nike, Monster Energy and Bridgestone.

His current net worth is around £630m.

Floyd Mayweather

No one shows off their vast wealth quite like the 50-0 retired king, who also revealed a caring side when he recently offered to pay George Floyd's funeral costs.

Money has retired from the ring but his last big bout – against Conor McGregor in August 2017 – earned him an eye-watering $275m (£220m) and pushed him into billionaire status.

He was the world's highest earning celebrity in 2018 as well as the richest sports star, according to Forbes.

Mayweather has a stunning £8m Las Vegas mansion which features a walk-in wardrobe for his shoes.

He also owns a fleet of supercars worth £20m which include a number of Rolls-Royces worth over £3m and four Bugatti Veyron supercars that set him back £1.7m each.

All of his black cars are kept in Las Vegas and his white ones are parked up in Los Angeles at his £19m mansion, which boasts 10 bathrooms, a private cinema room for 20 people and master bedroom bigger than most London flats.

He can get between both homes in his £50m private jet.

Mayweather's wealth is the subject of much controversy, though, and he has been forced to deny claims he is broke.

The former boxer says he makes seven figures a month from "smart investments".

The source of Mayweather's wealth can be tracked down to when he broke with legendary promoter Bob Arum.

Arum promoted Mayweather under his Pretty Boy nickname during the first decade of his professional career after the 1996 Olympics.

But in 2006, Mayweather went into Arum's office, wrote the $750,000 cheque (£600,000) that released him from his contract and turned himself into 'Money' Mayweather.

He became a money-making machine through appearances at Wrestlemania and Dancing with the Stars, box-office smashes such as his 2015 fight against Manny Pacquiao – the richest fight ever – and his social media profiles.

His current net worth is around £400m.

Michael Jordan

Sport's first billionaire, MJ has become a financial behemoth after retirement due to his line of trainers.

Air Jordans bring in makers Nike £2.5b a year and have helped His Airness amass a personal fortune of around £1.7b.

The former Chicago Bulls star's profile has been boosted again thanks to Netflix's 10-episode show The Last Dance.

Last year he still made the equivalent of £27,780 an hour – despite retiring for good in 2013.

Jordan's cut of the £2.5b his trainers make is around £120m, that's four times as much as current NBA icon LeBron James earns with his Nike sponsorship deal.

But other corporate giants were desperate for a slice of MJ – who somehow cannot sell his amazing £12m mansion in Illinois – complete with cigar lounge.

Massive companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Chevrolet – who have pride of place on Man Utd's shirts – wrote out colossal cheques for him to promote their brand.

Jordan is said to be worth £1.66b.

No wonder he spends most of his time smoking cigars, playing golf and enjoying his own tequila, which can sell for £1,400 a bottle.

Michael Schumacher

Until recently, the German was the undisputed greatest Formula One racer of all-time.

Lewis Hamilton recently matched Schumacher's tally of seven F1 world titles – and boasts more wins and pole positions to boot.

But in his prime, mostly at Ferrari, Schumacher was unstoppable – and one of the richest.

In 2004, Forbes called him the the second-highest paid athlete on the planet and one of the few sportsmen to reach the billionaire's club.

Schumacher raked in up to £50m per year in his prime from his Ferrari contract, but he also raked in monster sums in sponsorship.

The German most-famously teamed-up with Deutsche Vermongensberatung – earning around £5m across three years just to wear a cap bearing their logo.

All in all, Schumacher is said to be worth exactly $1bn by Forbes.

Schumacher, now 51, suffered an horrific skiing accident in 2013 and is still recovering after badly hitting his head and being placed in a medically-induced coma.

Precious little information has been released regarding his recovery.

Jack Nicklaus

NICKLAUS is regarded as one of golf's greatest-ever players.

In a long and distinguished career, the American won 117 tournaments during his career, including SIX Masters titles.

As well as prize money, Nicklaus raked in huge sums from sponsorship deals, most-notably MacGregor Golf.

But the US star also designed golf courses, released books and even had his own brand of golf video games to bump his career earnings into the billionaire tier.

In total, Nicklaus raked in £1.15bn during his incredible career.

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