Hamilton clocks in 8th on Forbes highest-paid athletes list

Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is Grand Prix racing's highest earner, but the Mercedes star is also among the world's top-ten highest-paid athletes for 2020 according to Forbes.

Despite the global coronavirus pandemic which brought the world – and many professional sports – to a standstill last year, there was no off switch for the world's leading athletes in terms of their income.

On the contrary, most of sport's mega stars enjoyed more income last year than in 2019.

According to Forbes which took into account retainers, prize money and cash earned away from the sports arena, the ten highest-paid athletes in the world took home pretax gross earnings of $1.05 billion during the past 12 months, 28% more than last year’s top earners.

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At the top of the money pyramid sits Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor who earned a whopping $180m in 2020.

But there's a catch – or perhaps in McGregor's case, a punch. The bulk of the fighter's pay day came from the sale of his holdings in whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve to proximo Spirits for $150m.

Completing the money grab podium in 2020 are footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who earned respectively $130m and $120m.

NFL Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott landed in fourth place with $107.5m, and was followed by NBA legend and Lakers player Lebron James who collected $96.5m last season.

Brazilian striker Neymar lines up sixth in the standings with $95m, while Roger Federer managed to boost his bank accounts by $90m despite being out of commission for most of the year due to a knee injury

Then follows our man Sir Lewis who beefed up his estimated $45m retainer with Mercedes with additional earnings that brought him across the finish line P8 with toral earnings of $82m.

It's uncertain if Forbes' estimate took into account the rumored 20% cut applied by Mercedes to its driver's retainer following the lesser number of races that took place last season.


Nevertheless, Forbes believes that Hamilton earned himself a healthy bonus thanks to his 11 Grand Prix wins to which he added the fruits of his numerous endorsements deals with Tommy Hilfiger, Monster Energy and Puma.

Interestingly, if Forbes had ranked everyone according to "on the field" earnings only, Hamilton would have clocked in fourth behind Messi, Prescott and Neymar.

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Phillip van Osten

Motor racing was a backdrop from the outset in Phillip van Osten's life. Born in Southern California, Phillip grew up with the sights and sounds of fast cars thanks to his father, Dick van Osten, an editor and writer for Auto Speed and Sport and Motor Trend. Phillip's passion for racing grew even more when his family moved to Europe and he became acquainted with the extraordinary world of Grand Prix racing. He was an early contributor to the monthly French F1i Magazine, often providing a historic or business perspective on Formula 1's affairs. In 2012, he co-authored along with fellow journalist Pierre Van Vliet the English-language adaptation of a limited edition book devoted to the great Belgian driver Jacky Ickx. He also authored "The American Legacy in Formula 1", a book which recounts the trials and tribulations of American drivers in Grand Prix racing. Phillip is also a commentator for Belgian broadcaster Be.TV for the US Indycar series.

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