The majority of the Irish fighter’s earnings came from the $150 million sale of his majority stake in whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve.
“This year, McGregor lands the winning punch, having leveraged his unmatched popularity in mixed martial arts to build a lucrative hustle outside UFC’s Octagon,” Forbes wrote.
“Adding in his endorsements, McGregor made $158 million outside of his fighting career over the last 12 months, becoming only the third athlete, after Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, to earn more than $70 million off the field in a single year while still actively competing.”
Football stars Lionel Messi ($130M) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($120M) came in second and third respectively and NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5M) came in fourth. Only five other athletes — Federer, Floyd Mayweather, Neymar, Manny Pacquiao and Woods — had previously earned more than $100 million in a year.
LeBron James came in fifth as the highest earning NBA player in 2021 on $96.5 million, with the 36-year-old recently becoming an investor in the Fenway Sports Group, which owns Premier League club Liverpool and MLB’s Boston Red Sox.
Brazilian footballer Neymar was sixth after earning $95 million and Roger Federer, despite being sidelined for much of the year through injury, was seventh after earning $90 million through endorsements.
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton ($82M), NFL quarterback Tom Brady ($76M) and NBA star Kevin Durant ($75M) completed the top 10, which collectively earned 28% more than last year’s top 10, despite the sporting calendar being impacted by the pandemic.