LONDON - Sports stars earn a lot of money, not only from their contracts with their clubs, but there are many other aspects that generate profits for them, on top of which are sponsorships and advertisements.

The billions of Gulf money invested into sports such as golf and football, means that sports stars are making more money than ever. According to Forbes magazine, an estimated record-breaking $1.1 billion makes up the combined income of the top ten highest-paid athletes of 2023, a 12% increase since last year.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

On field: $46 million
Off field: $90 million

After a year and a half with Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo almost doubled his annual playing salary to an estimated $75 million when he landed a huge contact and made the switch to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in January. In the past year alone, he has earned an estimated $90 million, with Binance being the latest addition to his sponsors. Only three athletes in Forbes' history have earned more than Ronaldo in a single year: Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and Conor McGregor.

2. Lionel Messi

On field: $65 million
Off field: $65 million

Messi's future is uncertain, but his earnings remain substantial with lucrative endorsements from brands like Adidas, Budweiser, and PepsiCo. He also earns an estimated $20 million per year from his endorsement deal with Socios and has launched an investment firm called Play Time. Plus, will he be joining Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia?

3. Kylian Mbappe

On field: $100 million
Off field: $20 million

At just 24 years old, Mbappe has a net worth of $120m, with the highest paying salary in all of football. The French striker earned just over €100m with PSG, while his off-field earnings exceeded €20m. Mbappé is also the first player ambassador for Sorare, a cryptocurrency-based fantasy game.

4. Le Bron James

On field: $44.5 million
Off field: $75 million

James is a prime example of an athlete-turned-entrepreneur. He's the first active athlete to be certified a billionaire by Forbes, with endorsements and investments in a variety of businesses, including Ladder sports nutrition, the SpringHill Company entertainment production, and Fenway Sports Group. He is also invested in Lobos 1707 tequila, Canyon Bicycles, Neutral Foods, Mitchell & Ness, a Major League Pickleball team, and has plans to own an NBA expansion team in Las Vegas.

5. Canelo Alvarez

On field: $100 million
Off field: $10 million

Álvarez earns tens of millions of dollars from each of his fights. Although he has a shortlist of traditional endorsements with Hennessy and Michelob Ultra, he recently partnered with Excel Sports Management to expand his marketing deals. He is also an entrepreneur with businesses such as Yaoca sports drink, I Can fitness app, Canelo Energy gas station chain, a clothing line, and a branded credit card. He also launched a canned cocktail brand called VMC in September.