LONDON – Virat Kohli is once again the only cricketer on the annual list of the world’s 100 highest paid athletes, published by Forbes magazine.
Indian cricket team captain is No.83 on this year’s list with estimated earnings of US$24m (approx AU$31.4m), of which $20m is estimated to come from endorsements and the remaining $4m from his salary.
Kohli was 89th on last year’s list with estimated earnings of US$22m.
The list is headed by American Boxer Floyd Mayweather, whose estimated earnings of US$285m are more than double those of Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi, who is second on the list with US$111m. The list is dominated by athletes from America’s NFL, NBA and MLB competitions, although the top five athletes – Mayweather, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Conor McGregor and Neymar – are from either football or combat sports.
There are no female athletes on the list. There are no Australians from any sport on the list and given the final entrant in the top 100, NBA player Nicolas Batum, earned just shy of US$23m, it’s unlikely any Aussie cricketers will appear on the list anytime soon.
In the Australian Financial Review’s Top 50 Sports Earners list from late last year, David Warner was the leading cricketer with an estimated AU$4.73m, putting him 12th overall.
Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc were the other cricketers on the AFR’s list last year.
Warner and Smith have been hit hard financially this year following their suspensions for the Cape Town ball-tampering saga, with both players losing their IPL contracts as well as their deals with CA. Forbes reports that Kohli, 29, earns most of his money from sponsors like New Era, Tissot, Oakley, Uber, Puma, Audi, Colgate-Palmolive, Herbalife and Pepsi.
Pepsi is included on the Forbes list of Kohli’s sponsors even though he publicly distanced himself from the soft drink company last year.
“If I myself won’t consume such things, I won’t urge others to consume it, just because I am getting money out of it,” Kohli reportedly said.
“When I started my fitness turnaround, it was more of a lifestyle thing initially. “If something goes away from that, I would not want to be a part of that or be promoting that.”
Kohli’s earnings are impressive, however, he has yet to reach the heights of the man he replaced as India’s skipper, MS Dhoni, who Forbes listed at 22 on their top 100 in 2014 with an annual pay packet of $US30 million.-Online