The Real Madrid superstar tops the ranking thanks to his mammoth wage at the Bernabeu, with Lionel Messi in second and NBA star LeBron James completing the podium.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been named as the world’s highest-paid athlete in the 2016 edition of American business magazine Forbes‘ list.
Ronaldo earned $88 million up to June 1 2016, which is made up of $56m in salary and $32m in endorsements to put him clear at the top.
It is the first time since 2000 that the number one position has not been filled by boxer Floyd Mayweather – now retired after finishing first last year – or golfer Tiger Woods, who has not won a major for eight years.
Ronaldo’s total put him ahead of fellow footballer Lionel Messi, who picked up $81.4m over the past 12 months, while basketball star LeBron James was third with $77.2m – up from number six spot last year.
James earned more than the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in endorsements ($54m), although his $23.2m salary was dwarfed by the wages of Ronaldo and Messi ($53.4m).
Basketball had three players in the top 10 – more than any other sport – with Kevin Durant ($56.2m) fifth and Kobe Bryant ($50m) in 10th.
Tennis duo Roger Federer ($67.8m) and Novak Djokovic ($55.8m) were fourth and sixth in the list respectively.
Baseball did not have a representative in the top 10, but was the most prolific in the first 100 with 26 players featuring. The NFL was next on 21, topped by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ($53.1m) in seventh spot, with basketball (18) and football (12) also faring well.
Golfers Phil Mickelson ($52.9m) and Jordan Spieth ($52.8m) were eighth and ninth respectively.
Spieth was the biggest mover in the list, surging from number 85 last year after capitalising commercially on his two major wins.