Messi earned $127m (£100m) in the last 12 months, compared to Ronaldo’s $109m (£86m), according to Forbes magazine.
Another footballer, Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar, is third, with a salary and endorsements amounting to $105m (£83m).
In fifth is tennis legend Roger Federer, with earnings of $93.4 (£73.4m).
There is also a boxer, Canelo Alvarez, two American footballers, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rogers, and three basketball players, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant in the top 10.
Serena Williams returned to the list at number 63, after it contained no women in 2018, with earnings of $29.2m (£23m).
To get on this year’s ranking, an athlete needed to earn at least $25m (£20m).
Ten different sports are represented, with American football, basketball and football following basketball in popularity.
While there are athletes from 25 different countries on the list, Americans take 62 of the places.
The UK has five athletes, France and Spain have three, while Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Serbia and Venezuela all have two.
The figures were calculated by including prize money, salaries and bonuses.
Forbes said endorsement incomes were an “estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders”
The magazine added: “We do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and we don’t include investment income.”
Bradley sends message to Anthony Joshua ahead of rematch with Ruiz Jr.
In the first bout, back on June 1, Joshua was dropped four times before the contest was waved off in the seventh round in New York City.
Ruiz, who came in as a late replacement and a huge underdog, walked away with the IBF, IBO, WBA, WBO world titles.
Joshua quickly exercised the contractual clause for an immediate rematch, and he vowed to correct his mistakes.
However, Bradley while speaking in an interview with FightHype, said Joshua should forget about boxing it out to a decision, and go for the knock-out win.
“He (Joshua) is got to knock him (Ruiz) out. It was a mental thing and it was a fact that he got caught right on the button. It was a fact that he didn’t train like he normally trains for big fights.
“He possibly took Ruiz lightly in looking at his physique like – ‘oh, he’s nothing.’”
Champions League: Ronaldo sets Juventus target for this season
Speaking to the media ahead of their Champions League clash against Lokomotiv Moscow, Ronaldo said he was eager to win the Serie A, the Italian Cup and the Champions League.
“We want to win Serie A, we want to win the Cup, the Champions League,” he said.
“Juventus should think big. We are going to try to win all the trophies, we know it will be difficult, especially the league and the Champions League, but I think it is possible. Everything is possible.”
Ronaldo further claimed he was not really keen on individual accolades, as collective awards was “the most important thing”.
He added: “In terms of individual, I have nothing to say as this is individual. It is not the most important thing.
“The most important is the collective awards. If you win the collective awards you have more chance to win the individual awards. The Golden Ball is for me in second place.”
What Steven Gerrard said about Super Eagles star
Gerrard, who is the coach of Glasgow Rangers, where Aribo plies his trade, reiterated the qualities of the talented Super Eagle.
Aribo picked up a pass from just on the edge of the box, nicely skipped past two Brazil defenders and blasting an exquisite finish past Ederson Moraes in goal last weekend in Singapore.
Speaking to Rangers TV via HITC, Gerrard revealed that he is still marveled by the technique and quality the 23-year-old put in for his goal against the five-time world champions.
“The moment of the goal [against Brazil] and the type of goal, he [Aribo] will score them throughout his career because he’s got all the attributes to make the box, he’s got the soft feet in the box to create exciting things, and I still have to pinch myself that we got him here.
“Joe [Aribo] can be whatever he wants to be. If he stays as humble as he is, stays as professional and keeps showing effort and desire, Joe can make his career whatever he wants it to be.”
The Nigeria international was on from start to finish at the Tynecastle Park in Edinburgh as Rangers drew 1-1 with Hearts on Sunday’s early noon kick-off in their Scottish Premiership match.
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