The Real Madrid megastar earned £38.4 million from salary and £21.6 million image rights and other endorsements to shoot him to the number one spot, which has been recently dominated by retired pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, MIRROR reports.
Ronaldo, 31, has been described as a ‘marketing juggernaut’ and his massive social media presence with 214.5 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter add to his commercial appeal.
The three-time ballon d’Or winner made over £120 million the past year in advertising with social media posts for his major sponsors Nike, Tag Heuer, and Herbalife.
Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi is second in the list after earning £55.9 million, with four-time NBA MVP LeBron James third on the list with £53 million.
Tennis great Roger Federer was fourth on £46.5 million followed by US basketball star Kevin Durant on £38.6 million.
Real Madrid star Gareth Bale was in 25th with £24.6 million while England captain Wayne Rooney was 49th with £17.9 million.