How Cristiano Ronaldo becomes first football billionaire ever

According to renowned American business magazine Forbes, Cristiano Ronaldo (35) is the first football billionaire ever. ‘CR7’ was the second-highest-paid athlete in the past twelve months, and thanks to a vast business empire and sponsorship deals outside of football, he is now the first footballer to reach the 1 billion dollar mark. As an active athlete, he goes after Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather.

Even the coronavirus cannot prevent that gigantic milestone. Although the Portuguese world star lost on four monthly wages, the cape of 1 billion dollars has been a fact for several days, according to renowned Forbes.

How Cristiano Ronaldo becomes first football billionaire ever
Cristiano Ronaldo

The specialist magazine put all the puzzle pieces together and knows that Cristiano Ronaldo is the first football billionaire ever. First of all thanks to the enormous salaries and extras that Ronaldo has enjoyed for almost two decades – first at Manchester United, then at Real Madrid and now at Juventus.

His commitment to the Old Lady, in a regular season and including all bonuses, is worth approximately 58 million euros gross a year – 31 million net a year.

In his last two years with Real Madrid, Ronaldo grossed around 60 million euros, including all possible premiums.

Before that, his base salary, without bonuses, was approximately 33 million gross per year. For example, Ronaldo raised more than half a billion euros in wages alone in his career.

Already dizzying numbers, yet his current salary is a lot less than that other world footballer – Lionel Messi is at Barcelona at least 85 million euros annually. No problem, Ronaldo makes up for that gap because of a much higher saleability and thus more commercial income.

In other words, companies, brands, and organizations prefer to stick Ronaldo’s head and body on their product, rather than Messi’s. His over 222 million followers on Instagram – making him the most followed person in the world – help him with that.

Throughout his career, Ronaldo has signed sponsorship deals with Unilever, Tag Heuer, Toyota, American Tourister, KFC, Armani, Castrol, Clear Haircare, and Herbalife, among others. To give you an idea: Herbalife paid him 14.5 million euros over five years for his services. Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo docked 750,000 euros a year, and then we forget the deal of his life.

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A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano)

In 2004, when Ronaldo just squeaked, Nike tied him with a six-year sponsorship deal. A contract that earned him 608,000 euros per year. After an interim revaluation to 3.65 million per year between 2010 and 2016, Ronaldo finally signed his mega-deal in that last year.

Until 2026, he will receive 16.2 million euros per year without bonuses. If he wins a Golden Ball, 4 million euros will be added to that. In their seventeen years as a couple, Nike has spent more than $100 million on Ronaldo – an amount the sportswear and shoemaker had already earned back by selling a variety of CR7 products between 2010 and 2014. Five percent of the income from that flows back to the player.

As a businessman

As if all that is not enough, there is also the business empire of Ronaldo. The 35-year-old athlete also likes to do business outside of football and his image that has been created around it. “I want to become a businessman next to and especially after football,” said an interview earlier. “It is not easy because, unlike football, I have less control.” Still, it runs smoothly.

It all started with its underwear line. ‘CR7’ clothing brand has been expanded over the years with shoes (CR7 Footwear), jeans trousers (CR7 Denim), blankets (CR7 Blankets), and his perfume. It is unclear exactly how much they yield to him. He had a taste for it.

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A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano)

Follow along: Ronaldo also has interests in 7EGEND, a Portuguese technology company, owns aircraft company Dutton Invest (1 million profit in 2018), he has a nightclub in the Algarve (Seven), he owns a fitness company in collaboration with Crunch, is together with tennis player Rafael Nadal and singer Enrique Iglesias partner in restaurant chain Zela, holds a clinic specializing in hair transplants in a joint venture with Insparya and opened the third hotel together with Pestana – this time in Madrid.

New hotels in New York, Paris, Marrakesh, and Manchester are in the pipeline. The first two ‘CR7’ hotels in Lisbon and Funchal have raised his company some 660,000 euros in the past two years.

Third active athlete

All this makes Ronaldo the first footballer to have assets of one billion dollars (858 million euros) and soon perhaps one billion euros. He is not the first active athlete. Golfer Tiger Woods got that job done in 2009, boxer Floyd Mayweather three years ago. According to, Roger Federer – the highest-earning athlete of the moment – is also close to that magical cape. Lionel Messi would have to wait another year to reach $1 billion.

Earlier this year, Forbes published a list in which the collective earnings of former sports stars are indexed to today. According to that list, Jack Nicklaus (golf), Arnold Palmer (golf), Michael Jordan (basketball), and Michael Schumacher (F1) also earned $1 billion.

Incidentally, Schumacher managed to round up one billion dollars after his career – without indexation, so – just like Michael Jordan did after his great NBA career.

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