Cricketer Virat Kohli is the only Indian sportsperson, and the only cricketer, to figure on Forbes’ 2018 list of highest paid athletes in the world. Kohli is placed at the 83rd spot on the list, which ranks 100 athletes from 22 countries, who excel in 11 sports.
The list is dominated by American athletes, who take up a whopping 66 spots, while basketball players occupy 40 places. Leading the pack is Floyd Mayweather, the 41-year-old recently retired boxer, who earned a total of $285 million between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018.
Kohli recorded earnings of $24 million, including $4 million in salary and winnings, and $20 million in endorsements, during the period, according to the report. Calling the Indian national cricket team captain “one of the most popular athletes in the world,” the magazine pointed out that he boasts more Twitter followers (over 25 million) than all but three active sports stars.
“This year the Indian national cricket board named him as one of just five players to receive the newly created A+ contracts, which guarantee an annual retainer of more than $1 million, and Indian Premier League club Royal Challengers Bangalore recently increased his salary to more than $2.6 million,” the report said, adding that Kohli partnered with Puma, Pepsi, Audi and Oakley off the field. He also became India’s first brand ambassador for Uber in March.
In terms of endorsements alone, Kohli is the 15th highest-paid athlete in the world, but he makes far less from cricket as compared to other top global sportspersons.
Following Mayweather on the list is Argentine football star Lionel Messi, with an annual salary and winnings of $84 million, and endorsements worth $27 million. The third place on the list went to another footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese player recorded earnings of $61 million in salary and winnings and $47 million in endorsements.
No woman athlete made it to the list. Tennis players Li Na, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams appeared regularly on the list earlier, but Li retired in 2014 while Sharapova is still recovering from the 15-month suspension following a doping scandal in 2016, Forbes said. Williams, the only woman to feature in the top 100 last year, dropped out of the list after her prize money fell from $8 million to $62,000 this year after she took a break following the birth of her baby in September.
Basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo, 23, is the youngest athlete to be named on the list. The Greek athlete, with total earnings of $35.5 million, was placed at No. 30. The oldest athlete to figure on the list is American golfer Philip Alfred Mickelson, who took the 22nd rank, with total earnings of $41.3 million.