The football sensation is said to bring pre-tax gross earnings of $ 130 million annually from on-pitch and off-pitch chases, keeping him ahead of the likes of LeBron James and rival Cristiano Ronaldo on the rich list.
Messi, who makes $ 75 million a year playing football, also collects $ 55 million from endorsement and sponsorship deals.
It is the second time that the Argentine is at the top of the Forbes list, the last time in 2019.
The top 10 highest earners, who are all men, have collectively earned $ 992 million in pre-tax gross earnings over the past year.
Messi has received criticism for some of his off-screen sponsorships, recently promoting tourism for Saudi Arabia. He was photographed in the country and posted a photo on his personal Instagram account with the tag #VisitSaudi.
CNN reached out to Messi representatives for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
NBA superstar James ranks second on the rich list, earning $ 121.2 million annually.
The Los Angeles Lakers striker may have missed the playoffs this season, but he has been dominant off the pitch, cashing in on his talk show and starring in last year’s. Space Jam: a new legacy Movie.
Forbes estimates James is now worth a staggering $ 850 million.
Cristiano Ronaldo completes the top three, earning $ 115 million after moving from Juventus to Manchester United.
The Portuguese superstar earns the same as Messi off-screen with the majority coming from his unrivaled social media presence.
Ronaldo has 690 million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which allows him to leverage higher sponsorship fees from a number of companies.
Forbes calculates estimates based on prize money, salaries and bonuses, as well as estimates of sponsorship deals and other off-screen revenue streams.