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He finished ahead of soccer players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the annual Forbe list released overnight.
During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021 McGregor earned $US180 million ($NZ251 million), a figure which includes $US158 million ($NZ220 million) from endorsements and the recent sale of the majority stake of his whiskey brand, Forbes said.
Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was second on the list and set a record as the highest-earning soccer player after bringing home $US130 million ($NZ181 million) while Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo earned $US120 million ($NZ167 million) to sit third among the top 10 highest-paid athletes.
NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($US107.5 million) of the Dallas Cowboys and four-time NBA champion LeBron James ($US96.5 million) rounded out the top five.
Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-the-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.