With huge revenues, a colossal audience on social media, sponsors queuing up, and his brand on products from hotels to underwear, Cristiano Ronaldo has long been more than just a football player.
But CR7's global brand may be tarnished by an accusation of rape in the United States, a complaint that dates back to 2009.
Ronaldo, "is truly a business offering a product, a service and a digital arm," Jean-Philippe Danglade, author of "Marketing and Celebrities", told AFP, pointing out that, in the player's native Madeira there is a Ronaldo museum and airport named after him.
"In terms of the collective imagination, it's really impressive."
Forbes magazine estimated that Ronaldo made $108 million (93.7 million euros) in 2017: $61 million in salary and $47 million from endorsements. While that's a jump in $15 million from the previous year, Ronaldo still dropped from first place to third.
Ronaldo's great rival Lionel Messi moved to second, on $111 million, after signing a new contract at Barcelona that increased his salary from an estimated $50 million a year to a reported $86 million.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather soared into first place with $275 million, almost all of which came from a single bout against mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor.
At 33, Ronaldo reportedly accepted a slight wage cut in the summer when he moved from Real Madrid to Juventus, signing a contract worth a reported 30-31 million euros a year after tax.
Forbes calculated that this represents a drop in gross salary from the $66 million he would have earned, with bonuses, at Real, to $64 million at Juventus, where his contract reportedly includes no incentives and is entirely guaranteed.
Tax is another sensitive topic for Ronaldo, who agreed in June to pay 16.7 million euros in a legal settlement after he was caught neglecting to pay some Spanish taxes.
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