Cristiano Ronaldo just became the first soccer player to earn $1 billion

Soccer just got its first billion-dollar man. Cristiano Ronaldo’s gross income was $105 million last year and the earnings nabbed him the number four spot on the 2020 Forbes Celebrity 100. Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s rival Lionel Messi came in fifth. But the real insult to injury for Messi is Ronaldo finally crossed into the $1 billion tier, making him the first soccer player in history to achieve the feat.

Ronaldo is also only the third athlete to earn as much before retiring, following in the footsteps and tax brackets of Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather. The striker has made $650 million on the pitch during his 17-year career but, according to Forbes, he’s expected to reach $765 million in career salary by the time his contract ends in June 2022. The rest of Ronaldo’s earnings come from endorsement deals like his $20 million annual contract with Nike. 

“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,” Sporting Intelligence’s Nick Harris told Forbes

Ronaldo’s whopping earnings are not too far from his unbelievable following. In January he became the first person to get 200 million followers on Instagram. While he stands to earn 30 percent less this year due to the pandemic, his rival Messi is inching behind him. Messi, who took a 70 percent pay cut during the outbreak, is projected to cross the $1 billion mark next year. 

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