Cristiano Ronaldo is said to be on track to join an elite club of sports stars by reaching $1 billion in career earnings – despite football taking an economic hammering during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ronaldo will reportedly join golfer Tiger Woods, who hit the billion-dollar mark in 2009, and repeat Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather’s financial feat of 2017 by becoming one of three athletes to have reached the staggering total while still active.
The figures contextualize the scale of the sacrifice of more than $4 million in pay the striker was announced to have taken last week, agreed as part of an attempt by Serie A leaders Juventus to save $100 million while football is in lockdown.
Rumours that the all-time top scorer for Portugal had bought an island to quarantine his family during the outbreak proved untrue, although Ronaldo has reacted to the crisis by donating $1.8 million to hospitals in his homeland, where he is currently keeping fit and urging the public to stay active indoors via his social media accounts.
Those pages demonstrate how incredibly lucrative Ronaldo’s brand is. His following of more than 210 million followers makes him the most high-profile athlete on Instagram by a considerable distance, and explains why sponsors see him as a more valuable investment than the likes of Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, who has around 64 million fewer followers.
Messi was the highest-paid athlete last season, earning $92 million at Barcelona to dwarf the $65 million earned by his arch rival at the Italian club he joined in July 2018. Neymar, who has donated $5 million to combat coronavirus in his native Brazil, was third, but Ronaldo’s notable lead in terms of endorsements has given him greater ability to earn huge sums off the pitch.
Ronaldo’s sponsorship deals offer him a vast income that is largely unaffected by the kind of cuts under consideration at Italian clubs, where 30 percent pay reductions are being proposed at a time when gate receipts have been ended by the suspension of matches.
He has been described as a “walking billboard” by Forbes, courtesy of a lineup of backers thought to be worth around $45 million to the 35-year-old, ranging from sportswear giants Nike to hair loss clinics and shampoo producers.
Fans are familiar with Ronaldo plugging his own brand of products, including hotels, videogames, fragrances and underwear – the subject of several half-naked posed photos by the icon, including a recent shot in the back of a car with the door open.
His personal car collection could be added to with an extremely limited edition Bugatti. According to reports on a specialist car website last week, Ronaldo has placed an order to own one of 10 Centodieci models being built by the luxury manufacturer.
Having been fined for speeding while he was at Manchester United, the would-be billionaire might want to avoid hovering anywhere near the new model’s reputed top speed of 236mph.
Ronaldo already owns a Bugatti Chiron and a Veyron, although he is thought to have resisted buying the Bugatti La Voiture Noire last year, having been linked to the one-off design for a steeper outlay of almost $18 million.