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The decade’s biggest-earning sports stars revealed – but who tops the list?

The decade’s biggest-earning sports stars revealed – but who tops the list?
Floyd Mayweather Jr will have another reason to celebrate this holiday season after he was named by Forbes as the biggest earner in the sports world throughout the last decade, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Mayweather took part in the two most lucrative bonanzas in the history of sports in recent years in his boxing matches with Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor, garnering the undefeated American boxer paydays which combined to more than $500 million and 10 million pay-per-view buys - a large chunk of the $915 million he earned across the past 10 years. 

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According to Forbes, that sum is more than $115 million more than any athlete on the planet has earned during that span, and speaks to the increase in earning power that sports stars have enjoyed thanks to sponsorships and other ancillary income.

Those earnings could continue in 2020 too, after Mayweather suggested on social media in the latter part of the year that he is contemplating a return to the ring.

Outside of Mayweather, two of world football's biggest names (and sometime sparring partners) Cristiano Ronaldo, 34, and Lionel Messi, 32, both jockeyed for second position on the list, but it was the Portuguese who out-earned his Argentinian rival by a sum of $800 million to $750 million. Nonetheless, Messi is trending upwards currently and stands alone as the best paid sportsperson of 2019 with a tally of $127 million.

The earnings of the world's top sports star are estimated annually and include disclosed earnings from competitions or teams they are affiliated with but also includes payments from additional streams such as prize money, bonuses and endorsements. 

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In addition to the trio already mentioned, NBA star LeBron James, 34, clocks in in fourth position with a whopping $680 million while Swiss tennis icon Roger Federer, 38, lands in fifth spot with $640 million.

US tennis icon Serena Williams, 38, is the only woman included in the top 40 with a fortune of around $215 million.

The full Forbes Top 10:

10. Lewis Hamilton (UK, motor racing): $400 million

9. Kevin Durant (US, basketball): $425 million

8. Manny Pacquiao (Philippines, boxing): $435 million

7. Phil Mickelson (US, golf): $480 million

6. Tiger Woods (US, golf): $615 million

5. Roger Federer (Switzerland, tennis): $640 million

4. LeBron James (US, basketball): $680 million

3. Lionel Messi (Argentina, football): $750 million

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, football): $800 million

1. Floyd Mayweather (US, boxing): $915 million

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