Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi is reported to be the world's highest paid athlete, raking in NZ$192 million over the past 12 months according to the Forbes top 100 ranking.
Portugal football star Cristiano Ronaldo, who switched from Spanish giants Real Madrid to Italian club Juventus at the start of the northern hemisphere season, is second on $164 million with Brazil's Neymar - who plays for French club Paris St-Germain – listed third with earnings of $158 million.
American tennis player Serena Williams is the only woman in the top 100, earning $44 million.
The American business magazine calculated the athletes' earnings by adding up their prizemoney, salaries and endorsements between June 2018 and June 2019.
The top 100 includes athletes from 25 countries and their $5.96 billion combined earnings are up 5 per cent from the previous year when American boxer Floyd Mayweather was first with $430 million.
Mayweather has dropped off the list this year.
His only fight since August 2017 was an exhibition boxing bout against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in December.
Athletes had to earn a minimum of $37.7 million to make this year's list.
Messi is only the second footballer to top the rankings after Ronaldo, and only the eighth different athlete to take the number one spot since the rankings began in 1990.
It is also the first time that footballers have ranked as the top three earners in sports.
Messi is one of 38 non-American athletes on the list, with 62 US stars in the top 100. The NBA accounted for the most athletes with 35.
Manchester United's Paul Pogba is the highest earning Premier League player in 44th place with $49.8 million.
AT A GLANCE
Forbes Top 10
1. Lionel Messi (Footballer) $192 million 2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Footballer) $164 million 3. Neymar (Footballer) $158 million 4. Canelo Alvarez (Boxer) $142 million 5. Roger Federer (Tennis player) $141 million 6. Russell Wilson (NFL player) $135 million 7. Aaron Rodgers (NFL player) $134 million 8. LeBron James (Basketball player) $134 million 9. Stephen Curry (Basketball player) $120 million 10. Kevin Durant (Basketball player) $99 million