Conor McGregor was ranked at No.1 on this year’s Forbes list of highest paid athletes, but Joe Rogan is sceptical after most of McGregor’s earnings came from selling his Proper 12 brand
McGregor topped this year’s Forbes list in May, breezing past all his competition to earn $180million.
The list showed that just $22million of McGregor’s earnings came from his UFC 257 loss to Dustin Poirier in January, with a whopping $150million coming from the sale of his whiskey brand, Proper 12.
After founding the brand in 2018, McGregor sold his majority stake in Proper 12 to Proximo Spirits for $150million this year.
He also made $8million in endorsements from the likes of DraftKings and the video game Dystopia: Contest of Heroes.
But Rogan wasn’t shocked to see McGregor top the list. Instead, the popular commentator and podcast host questioned the legitimacy of his ranking.
“Yeah, but does it count? Because Conor’s highest paid because he made a bunch of money off of whiskey. Well, I mean, it’s kind of he’s the highest paid athlete,” he said on ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’.
Football stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo came in behind McGregor on the list at No.2 and No.3. Unlike the Irishman, most of their income came from their time playing their respective sport.
The No.1 spot is something McGregor has been targeting for years. In 2016 when he met Ronaldo at his gym in Ireland, McGregor promised that he would overtake Ronaldo to top the list.
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“It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve been waiting on the call, to be honest. I could have taken the easy money, I could have taken the quick buck. I took the risk,” McGregor told Forbes.
“I put my heart and soul into it, and it’s paid off. I know a lot of these athletes on this list, you know, they make so much from their sport, so much from their endorsements. I’m probably the complete opposite.
“I’m an outlier. I’m a disrupter.”
Despite a year plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, Forbes’ list showed the top 10 highest paid athletes combined earned 28% more than last year’s top 10.
McGregor recently lost out to Poirier in their trilogy fight at UFC 264 last month. The Irishman suffered a broken tibia in the closing moments of the first round and was unable to continue, awarding Poirier with the first round TKO win.
The former two weight UFC champ underwent surgery straight after the fight, having a titanium rod fitted in his left leg. UFC president Dana White thinks McGregor will be sidelined until the summer of next year.