Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes the First Soccer Player to Earn $1 Billion During Career

The world-famous athlete made $650 million through soccer, with about $350 million more coming from endorsement deals, Forbes says

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo exit in his car to resume training after a quarantine on May 19, 2020
Photo: RemotePhotoPress/Shutterstock

Cristiano Ronaldo has reached a career moment that no other soccer star has before.

The 35-year-old brought in $105 million before taxes and fees between June 2019 and June 2020, bringing his total career earnings to $1 billion, Forbes reported this week. Ronaldo is the first soccer player, and the third active athlete, to ever hit the mark.

He now joins golfer Tiger Woods and former boxer Floyd Mayweather as the only sports figures to reach the milestone before retirement.

According to Forbes, Ronaldo earned $650 million from soccer over his 17-year-career. He currently plays for Juventus F.C., but has also played for Manchester United and Real Madrid, two of the most illustrious franchises in the sport.

The rest of Ronaldo's earnings were made from his many endorsement deals, which include Nike and Tag Heuer. His deal with Nike, signed in 2016, is for a lifetime partnership, CNN reported. Only two other athletes have ever signed a lifetime contract with Nike — Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

While Ronaldo has taken the top spot for career earnings, he is only in fourth place on the list of the world's highest-paid celebrities.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Daniele Badolato/Juventus FC/Juventus FC/Getty

At No. 5 on the world's highest-paid celebrities list is Ronaldo's longtime rival, Lionel Messi, who is often considered, along with Ronaldo, as one of the best soccer players of all time. But Messi is still far off from hitting the $1 billion mark — he's brought in a total of $605 million since 2005, Forbes reported.

The difference highlights Ronaldo's massive appeal.

“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,” Nick Harris of Sporting Intelligence told Forbes.

Sporting Intelligence conducts the Global Sports Salaries Survey, which ranks teams worldwide based on total salary expense.

“He’s box office," Harris added of Ronaldo.

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Ronaldo — a father of four — recently played his 1,000th professional game in an empty stadium due to social distancing restrictions in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“So proud to reach 1000 official games in my career with a very important victory that put us on the top of the table again!💪🏽,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to all my teammates, coaches, my family & friends and to my fans that helped me to reach this great achievement.”

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