Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes Football's 1st Billionaire, Beats Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Cristiano Ronaldo became only the third athlete to be a billionaire, while still playing, after Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather.

Cristiano Ronaldo became football's first-ever billionaire according to a report by Forbes. The Portuguese pipped his rival and Argentine star Lionel Messi.

Juventus and Portugal forward Ronaldo, 35, is only the third athlete to hit the mark while still playing, following Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather, the report said.

"Ronaldo, the first to reach the earnings milestone in a team sport, has made $650 million on the pitch during his 17 years as a pro and is expected to reach $765 million in career salary with his current contract, which ends in June 2022," the Forbes report read.

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"Messi, who began playing at the senior level three years after Ronaldo, has earned a total of $605 million in salary since 2005. The only team athlete to even come within striking distance of those figures was former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who retired in 2016 after 22 years in Major League Baseball having earned $450 million in salary.

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"Not even football legend David Beckham came close, ending his career with total earnings of $500 million, half of which came from off-the-pitch endorsements."

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"Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all time, in the world's most popular sport, in an era when football has never been so rich," said Sporting Intelligence's Nick Harris, whose Global Sports Salaries Survey ranks teams worldwide based on total salary expense. "He's box office."

(With inputs from IANS)