Portugal and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first footballer with $1 billion in earnings, forbes has reported.
Popularly known as Cr7, Cristiano earned $105 million (Sh11 billion) before taxes and fees in the past year making him the first ever soccer player in the history of the game to earn $1 billion.
In his 17 years in the pitch, he made $650 million (Sh69 billion) but he is expected to hit $765 million (Sh81 billion) in career salary after his contract at Juventus expire in June 2022.
Argentina and Barcelona foward Lionel Messi, who began playing at the senior level three years after Ronaldo is worth $605 million (Sh64 billion).
An athlete who comes within a striking distance of Cristiano’s figures is not even David Beckham but former New York Yankees baseball legend Alex Rodriguez.
He retired in 2016 after 22 years in MLB having earned $450 million (Sh48 billion) in salary.
English soccer legend David Beckham came close who hung his boots after making $500 million (Sh53 billion) from the game including endorsements which came outside the pitch.
Beckham is only the third athlete to hit the mark as an active player while following Tiger Woods, who did it in 2009 on the back of his long term endorsement deal with Nike, and American boxer Floyd Mayweather who made most of his income from a cut of pay-per-view sales for his boxing matches.
Sporting Intelligence’s Nick Harris, the owner of Global Sports Salaries Survey which ranks teams worldwide based on total salary expense, lauded Cristiano as one of the best footballers in the history of the game.
“Cristiano 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. He’s box office,” Harris told Forbes.
With over 122 million likes in facebook, his global presence is unparalleled. Cristiano is also the most followed athlete on instagram with 222 million fans and follows 449 people.
The 35-year-old is the most followed on Instagram. Messi and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar are second and third on 153m and 139m followers respectively.
David Beckham is in fifth position while LeBron James is the only non-footballer on the list, coming in at fourth. Ronaldinho is sixth, ahead of James Rodriguez, Marcelo, Gareth Bale and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
After switching from Real Madrid to Juventus, Cristiano’s salary was at around $34 million dollars.
On top of the lucrative salary, the five time Ballon d’Or winner is raking in millions from paid Instagram posts according to Buzz Bingo.
Cr7 earns up to $47.8 million (Sh5 billion) from paid Instagram posts and is the platform’s highest earner.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star pockets an average of $975,000 (Sh105 million) for each paid post on his account.
Ronaldo has won 31 trophies in Portugal, England, Spain and Italy on top leading his nation Portugal to the 2016 European Championship and the UEFA Nations League.