NEW YORK • Lionel Messi was the world's highest-paid athlete over the past year, Forbes reported on Tuesday in its annual sporting rich list.
The Barcelona and Argentina captain dethroned undefeated American boxer Floyd Mayweather - who completely dropped out of the top 100 - as the highest sporting earner, raking in US$127 million (S$173 million) via salary and endorsement deals.
That put Messi ahead of his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal forward who came in second with earnings of US$109 million.
Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar completed a sweep of the top three positions by footballers, coming in third with earnings of US$105 million.
Former world No. 1 Serena Williams was the only woman to appear on the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of US$29.2 million.
The tennis great, who is one Grand Slam title shy of Australian Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 majors, failed to make the cut last year.
National Football League and National Basketball Association stars rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth on US$89.5 million, just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers (US$89.3 million).
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was the highest-earning NBA player with US$89 million, while the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry was ninth with US$79.8 million.
Curry's teammate Kevin Durant was 10th on the rankings with US$65.4 million, with Forbes noting that there were 62 American athletes on its list.
Said Kurt Badenhausen, the senior editor of Forbes Media: "The global impact of soccer is clearly reflected in earnings in 2019, with the top three athletes on the list being Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar.
"But basketball players continue to dominate the top 100 overall, with 35 athletes on the list earning a total of US$1.29 billion, with 72 per cent of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals."