Over the course of Michael Jordan’s 14 seasons in the NBA, he earned $94 million in TOTAL salary. That’s not a typo. Michael Jordan, the greatest athlete of his generation (and some would say the greatest athlete of all time), made a total of $94 million from NBA salaries over the course of his entire career. Michael’s peak single-season salary was $33.14 million. He earned that in the 1997-1998 season from the Chicago Bulls. I wanted to put these numbers on the table for context before we discuss a rumor related to Cristiano Ronaldo that is swirling around the sports world today.
According to Italian soccer journalist Fabrizio Romano, a Saudi team called Al Nassr has offered Cristiano a 3-year contract that will come with an annual salary of…
That’s not $207 million over three years. It’s $207 million per year for three years. In other words, Al Nassr has submitted a 3-year $621 million contract to Mr. Ronaldo’s agents. That is the largest contract in sports history in terms of average salary per year. Lionel Messi currently holds this record thanks to his 4-year $674 million contract with former team Barcelona. That contract equated to $168 million per year.
Put another way, if the rumors are true, Cristiano Ronaldo will earn $1 million more than Michael Jordan’s highest single-season salary… every two months. He will make make TWO TIMES Michael Jordan’s entire career earnings… every year… for the next THREE years.
Now to be fair, we should take into account inflation.
Michael Jordan earning $33 million in 1997 is the same as earning around $66 million today. Michael earning $94 million in total salary is the same as earning around $175 million in today’s dollars.
So, after adjusting for inflation it will take Cristiano four months to earn Michael’s highest single-season salary. And over the course of a full season, Cristiano would still earn $30 million more than Michael’s inflation-adjusted total career earnings.
Just a few days ago Cristiano parted ways from his former team, Manchester United. His contract was terminated after he publicly criticized the owners in an interview with Piers Morgan.
Ronaldo is currently competing in something called “the World Cup,” representing a team apparently called “Portugal.” From an extremely quick internet search I learned that Al Nassr is apparently one of the best clubs in Saudi Arabia, winning the something called “the Saudi Super Cup” in 2020 and 2021.
Highest Paid Athlete in the World
Assuming this contract is eventually consummated, it will make Cristiano Ronaldo the highest paid athlete in the world, by a mile.
In terms of salary alone, Rival soccer superstar Lionel Messi comes in second with his $75 million base salary from Paris St. Germain. Though, as we stated earlier, Messi did previously make $168 million under his contract with former team Barcelona. But even that contract is around $40 million LESS than the Saudi Ronaldo contract.
This contract should also finally boost Cristiano’s net worth above Messi’s net worth. We currently estimate Cristiano Ronaldo’s net worth to be $500 million, vs. Messi’s $600 million net worth.