For years, Conor McGregor has always said that he wanted to top the Forbes’ highest paid athletes list. In 2021, the UFC star finally did it.
According to Forbes’ estimates, McGregor took home $180 million in the past 12 months (from May 1, 2020 to May 1, 2021), making him the first ever MMA fighter to top the list.
Majority of that figure comes from his lucrative buyout, after Proper Twelve whiskey was purchased by Becle, the company known for Tequila brand Jose Cuervo. According to Forbes’ estimates, McGregor made $150 million for selling his ownership stake, and made an additional $8 million in sponsorships.
McGregor only fought once in that time span, losing by KO to Dustin Poirier. Forbes estimates that he made $22 million for that fight.
It’s worth noting that the UFC anti-trust lawsuit has revealed a lot of financial information, and it showed that Forbes’ previous estimates for McGregor’s past purses were inaccurate and significantly inflated. It’s also curious that they estimated McGregor to have made $32 million to fight Cerrone in 2020, then supposedly earned $10 million less for his next bout with Poirier, which was far more successful on pay-per-view.
That being said, the $150 million from the massive Proper Twelve sale alone pretty much guaranteed McGregor would top this list either way.
Second and third on the list are football megastars in Lionel Messi ($130M) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($120M). They do have lucrative sponsorship deals, but majority of Messi and Ronaldo’s earnings came from salaries from their sport ($97M and $70M, respectively).