Conor McGregor, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer: The biggest superstars in sport named

  • Kat Lucas

Conor McGregor's ability to capture the imagination of the watching world will be evident again this weekend. 

The Notorious takes on Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in a rematch of their 2014 clash in which he defeated the Diamond by TKO in the first round. 

Despite yet another year-long hiatus from the Octagon, the Irishman's lure has not waned and he is expected to rake in a disclosed purse in the region of $5 million. 

That is a lucrative start to the year for McGregor after a hugely profitable 2020. 

As a result, talkSPORT have listed him among the biggest stars in sport, judging by their ranking on the Forbes rich list, their earnings over the past year, and their social media presence. 

Those three factors are by no means definitive, of course, but there are few alternatives when it comes to judging stars from sports as far apart as MMA, tennis, boxing, football and F1. 

Anthony Joshua

Social media following – 3.2m Twitter, 12m Instagram

Earnings in 2020 – $47m (£37.2m)

Forbes - No.57

Joshua's victory over Kubrat Pulev stood him in good stead in 2020, but his followers are far more intrigued by the prospect of a unifying bout with Tyson Fury. There are still a few hurdles to overcome before that can happen, but AJ is still ranked as the biggest star of his sport. 


Conor McGregor

Social media following – 8.4m Twitter, 38.4m Instagram

Earnings in 2020 – $48m (£38m)

Forbes: No.53

What's particularly remarkable about McGregor is that he's had just two UFC fights in four years, one of them being his defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Yet as the most instantly recognisable face of the company, results are almost immaterial. 


Lewis Hamilton

Social media following – 6.1m Twitter, 21.5m Instagram

Earnings in 2020 – $54m (£42.7m)

Forbes - No.40

Hamilton retained the F1 world title again this year and also drew plenty of attention with his activism. It's little wonder there's so much focus on a new deal with Mercedes. 


Lionel Messi

Social media following – 178.8m Instagram

Earnings in 2020 – $104m (£82m)

Forbes - No.5

On the pitch, Messi endured a miserable 2020, but he was laughing all the way to the bank in terms of his off-field earnings due to his immense portfolio and sponsorship deals. Yet in terms of followers, earnings and his ranking with Forbes, he's still eclipsed by his eternal rival... 


Cristiano Ronaldo

Social media following – 90.5m Twitter, 255.9m Instagram

Earnings in 2020 – $105m (£83m)

Forbes - No.4

Ronaldo is the most followed athlete in the world by quite some margin. The Portuguese is also the footballer with the greatest net worth, though he has reportedly turned down a chance to make the coffers swell even further by snubbing a deal to represent Saudi Arabian tourism. 


Roger Federer

Social media following – 8m Instagram

Earnings in 2020 – $106.3m (£84m)

Forbes - No.3

Federer's social presence is relatively small - he doesn't even have Twitter - but even at the grand old age of 39, he continues to earn a staggering yearly sum. 

McGregor's presence among such an elite group tells of the transformative impact he's had on MMA. 

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