Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli is the sole sportsperson from the country to feature among the world’s 100 highest paid athletes in the latest Forbes list topped by soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. Kohli, 28, has been ranked 89th on the 2017 Forbes list of ‘The World’s highest paid athletes’ with a total pay of USD 22 million that includes USD three million from salary and winnings and another 19 million from endorsements. Describing Kohli as the “Indian cricket phenom”, Forbes said the sports star has “for good reason” already drawn comparisons to all-time great Sachin Tendulkar. It added that Kohli has continuously shattered batting records and in 2015 was named the captain of the Indian national team, making him one of the youngest players to ever hold the job.
It noted that last year Kohli made nearly USD 1 million in salary and match fees from his national team play, and he’s also among the Indian Premier League’s highest-paid players thanks to a USD 2.3 million salary from the Royal Challengers Bangalore. “The vast majority of his income, however, comes from one of the sports world’s most impressive sponsorships portfolios,” Forbes said. The list has been topped by Ronaldo with a total pay of 93 million dollars. American basketball star LeBron James comes in at the second spot with USD 86.2 million, followed by Argentine footballer Lionel Messi (3) with 80 million , tennis star Roger Federer (4) with 64 million and American basketball player Kevin Durant.
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However, in a troubling indication of gender inequality, the list of 100 has only one woman sports star. Forbes noted that the top 100 athletes are a boys’ club more than ever, with tennis star Serena Williams, who comes in at the 51 spot with USD 27 million, the lone female athlete to make the cut this year. Golf legend Tiger Woods, who was arrested recently after police found him asleep at the steering wheel of his car as a result of his medication, comes in at the 17th spot. Forbes said while Woods continues to “sink further away” from the player that dominated the golf landscape, “sponsors still see value in partnering with” him.
The list also includes tennis greats Novak Djokovic (16) and Rafael Nadal (33), basketball player Anthony Davis (44) and soccer star Wayne Rooney (70). Forbes said the 100 highest-paid sports stars earned a cumulative USD 3.11 billion over the past 12 months, down a per cent from last year. But the threshold to make the list rose USD 600,000 to USD 21.4 million. The earnings figures include salaries, prize money and bonuses earned between June 2016 and June 2017. Athletes from 21 countries are represented among the top 100, but Americans dominate the list with 63 entries thanks to soaring salaries in the professional Americans leagues like the National Basketball Association, National Football League and Major League Baseball.