Ronaldo tops the heap with a $93-million year, while James raked in $86.2 million. Aside from receiving Federation Internationale de Football Association player of the year honors for the fourth time in his career, the Real Madrid standout signed a lifetime contract with Nike Inc. worth a reported $1 billion.
Last year, James was the third top-paid athlete behind Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. James also has a lifetime deal with Nike, as well as major agreements with Coca-Cola and Kia.
Rounding out the top five are tennis great Roger Federer and basketball star Kevin Durant.More news: World leaders reaffirm commitment to fighting climate change
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The top 100 athletes earned a total of $3.11bn (£2.4bn) over the last 12 months, a slight decrease from last year's earnings of $3.15bn (£2.43bn).
There's no Canadian representation to speak of on the list, not even when it comes to the nation's favourite sport - no hockey player made the cut.
Forbes used salary and bonus data between June 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017, to compile the list. The 40-year-old boxer retired in late 2015 and has not fought since, though a potential "super-match" with UFC star Conor McGregor is now in the works.