Jon Rahm’s confirmed move to LIV has done more than rock the world of golf, it has shaken up the hierarchy of sport’s highest earners as well. The Spanish world No. 3 confirmed his defection from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-funded breakaway league on Thursday and although the Ryder Cup star would not be drawn on exactly how much he is being paid to make the switch, reports are suggesting that he could be set to receive as much as £476m in a offer that is simply too good to turn down.
Even if that mooted figure turns out to be slightly overestimated, Rahm has undoubtedly still become the highest-paid athlete in the world overnight, by a country mile.
Before the popular golfer put pen to paper on his life-changing contract, Cristiano Ronaldo was the highest-paid sportsperson on planet Earth, with an estimated income of £136m. But the total that Rahm will pocket is more than three times the amount that the Portuguese legend currently earns. As a result, Ronaldo has been unceremoniously knocked off his perch into second place, with Lionel Messi (£130m) down to third.
Ronaldo shot to the top of the list when he completed his ultra-lucrative move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr on December 30, 2022. Messi turned down an offer to follow his long-standing rival to the Middle East and instead chose to join MSL club Inter Miami.
Rahm’s new LIV Golf peers Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson are the only other two golfers who make it into the top 10, ranked seventh and eighth with earnings of £106m and £107m respectively, according to Forbes.
Basketball star Stephen Curry is ninth on the list with earnings of just over £100m and although he has now retired, tennis all-time great Roger Federer still sneaks into the top 10 thanks to a £95m income.
Rahm now finds himself out on his own at the top of the pack, something that seemed unfathomable a few months ago, especially after comments he made about the prospect of joining LIV at the US Open back in June.
He said: “Money is great, but when [wife] Kelley and I… this first thing happened, we started talking about it, and we’re like, will our lifestyle change if I got $400 million? No, it will not change one bit. Truth be told, I could retire right now with what I’ve made and live a very happy life and not play golf again.
“So I’ve never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons. I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I’ve always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that.”
It appears that when push came to shove, Rahm was prepared to swap history for huge money after all.