Lionel Messi will become the world’s next billionaire athlete just by turning up at Barcelona’s training camp next month.
However, after 16 years with the club, Messi reportedly asked to not return to the club following its 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals. It was the first season in more than a decade that the Argentine star was ending without a trophy. Messi’s contract with the club does not expire until 2021.
However, should he return, he would close the 2020-21 season with more than US$1 billion in earnings, something only four other athletes have achieved.
Golfer Tiger Woods was the first athlete to cross the billion-dollar mark back in 2009. Boxer Floyd Mayweather joined the exclusive club in 2017 after led a series of pay-per-view fights that earned more than US$25 million.
Messi’s perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo was the third athlete to achieve the feat, doing so this year in a season which saw him earn US$105 million.
However, legendary basketball player Michael Jordan is the only athlete to retain billionaire status after 15 years of professional play and investments in the Charlotte Hornets as well as his popular partnership with Nike.