Messi, Osaka: Wage gap between highest-paid male and female athletes revealed

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It was established earlier this year that tennis stars Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are the only two women in the top-100 highest-paid athletes in the world. The pair appeared in the Sportico rankings, where basketball icon LeBron James was listed as the highest-paid athlete.

Osaka, which has stakes in more than a dozen brands and endorsement deals with Nissan, Tag Heuer and Louis Vuitton, was ranked 20th.

Williams, who owns a venture capital firm and has long-standing partnerships with Pepsi, Gatorade and Aston Martin, was 52nd on the list.

A new study from SportsPro, using data from Forbes, has now compared the difference between the five highest-paid athletes and female athletes.

In SportsPro’s list, Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi was named the top earner, earning $130m (£108m) in the past 12 months.

This compares to the $59.2m (£49.3m) earned by Osaka, meaning there is a 119.6 percent increase between her salary and Messi’s.

The second highest paid male athlete is James, who took home $121.2m (£101m). That’s 167.6 percent more than the $45.3m (£37.7m) earned by the second-highest-earning female athlete, Williams.

Unfortunately, the percentage increase among the highest paid sportsmen and women increases as SportsPro moves down the list.

There is a 917.7 percent increase between the third highest paid sportsmen and women – Cristiano Ronaldo  and Venus Williams.

Ronaldo earned $115m (£95.8m) in the last 12 months, while Williams earned $11.3m (£9.4m).

The fourth highest paid sportsmen and women are soccer player Neymar and four-time Olympic champion in gymnastics Simone Biles.

Neymar earned $95m (£79.1m) and Biles $10.1m (£8.4m), a percentage increase of 840.6%.

The biggest percentage increase — 954.5 percent — is between basketball star Steph Curry and tennis player Garbiñe Muguruza, who are the fifth highest-paid sportsmen and women.

Curry earned $92.8m (£77.3m), while Muguruza, winner of the lucrative WTA Finals, earned $8.8m (£7.3m).

Significantly, the majority of female athletes on the highest-paid list are tennis players – the sport arguably has more gender parity than any other, with the Grand Slams giving equal exposure to male and female stars.

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