Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi to become the first footballer in history to earn $1 billion, across his playing career. He was the highest earning sports athlete on Instagram during the lockdown according to a research report by Attain for the period of March 12 to May 14.
He earned a whopping $2,385,795 million with his posts on the social networking site. The 35-year-old earned $596,448.75 for each one of his four sponsored posts.
Second on that list is Argentina and Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who earned $1,646,909.80 during the lockdown period for his four sponsored posts. One-time Messi's teammate and current PSG star striker Neymar is third on the list earning $1,511,085.72 in total.
Ronaldo is the most followed athlete on social media with 222.4 million followers on Instagram, 85.3 million followers on Twitter and 112 million on Facebook.
Late last month, Ronaldo came fourth on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, closely followed by Messi, who earned $104 million during the same period. Tennis legend Roger Federer was the top athlete in the list—third overall—with earnings of USD 106.3 million.
According to Forbes, the Portuguese superstar and Juventus striker earned $105 million before taxes and fees in the past year.
The 35-year-old striker is only the third athlete, and only footballer, to hit the $1 billion-mark while still active. Golf champion Tiger Woods achieved it in 2009, while boxer Floyd Mayweather did it in 2017.
Ronaldo is the first to reach the milestone in a team sport. He has earned $650 million on the pitch in his 17-year-old career so far, and his earnings are expected to reach $765 million when his current contract ends in June 2022.
Cricket superstar Virat Kohli remained the only Indian in the Forbes list, with earnings of $26 million, jumping to the 66th spot from 100 in the 2020 standings.
Kohli's earnings from endorsement stand at $24 million and $2 million from salary/winnings. The 31-year-old is also the only cricketer in the top-100 list.
With earnings of $25 million, Kohli was ranked 100th in 2019 and 83rd in 2018 with $24 million.
The athletes' earnings have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic which led to suspension of sporting activities all around the world.
(With PTI inputs)