Barcelona and Argentina striker Lionel Messi has dethroned five-division boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather as the highest-paid athlete over the past year, according to the annual Forbes list.
Messi, who scored 36 goals while leading Barcelona to the La Liga title this year, earned $US127 million ($AU182m) between his salary and endorsements to move up one spot on the list of the world's 100 highest-paid athletes.
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo ($US109 million), Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar ($US105 million), Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez ($US94 million) and Swiss tennis great Roger Federer ($US93.4 million) rounded out the top five.
Mayweather, who topped the list in 2018 and four times in seven years, only had an exhibition match last December in Japan and did not crack the top 100, which is comprised of athletes from 10 different sports.
Players from the NBA led all sports with 35 players among the top 100, none higher than Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James who was ranked eighth with total earnings of $US89 million.
American football was the next most-represented sport with 19 players, followed by baseball with 15, and soccer with 12.
Meanwhile tennis superstar Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of $29.2 million.
According to Forbes, the highest-paid athletes of its list collectively earned $US4 billion over the last 12 months, up five per cent from last year's earnings of $US3.8 billion.
World's highest-paid athletes of 2019 ($US) :
1) Lionel Messi ($127m)
2) Cristiano Ronaldo ($109m)
3) Neymar ($105m)
4) Canelo Alvarez ($94m)
5) Roger Federer ($93.4m)