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The Forbes SportsMoney Index- how most paid sports men get paid, richest sport wears, richest sport clubs

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For years FORBES has been the ultimate scorekeeper of sports business, tracking everything from the most valuable teams to the highest-earning players, from top agencies to biggest sponsors. But quantifying monetary success doesn’t tell the full story.

The Dallas Cowboys, for example, are the world’s most valuable pro sports team, now worth $4.2 billion with a staggering $700 million in revenue last season. Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s highest-paid athlete, taking home $88 million. Nike is the globe’s top sportswear brand, worth $28 billion and clocking $30 billion in annual revenues. And Creative Artists Agency beats all sports agencies, with a whopping $290 million in maximum commissions.

But what, exactly, makes the Cowboys, Ronaldo, Nike or CAA so successful? What is it that’s driving the impressive numbers on their balance sheets? It’s the business relationships they have throughout the sports ecosystem.

The Cowboys are tremendously successful largely because they field superstar athletes like Dez Bryant and have deals with some of the world’s most valuable brands in Pepsi, Ford, AT&T and Bank of America.

Ronaldo earns so much because he has a massive contract with Real Madrid – worth $56 million last year – and a group of corporations willing to shell out more than $30 million per year just to be associated with him.

How most paid athletes get paid

Nike is able to sell $20 billion worth of shoes annually because it’s directly associated with some of the biggest names in sports – Barcelona, LeBron James and the NFL, to name just a few.

And CAA has built its success upon the sports agency world’s most star-studded roster of athletes, boasting a lineup of Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Julio Jones and many, many more.

Those sorts of relationships are the very foundation of the sports business world. And though we’ve long detailed the end results – which teams are most valuable, which players are highest paid – until now nobody has ever done a comprehensive study of how all of those connections fit together to create wealth.

To the see the full list visit: www.forbes.com/sports-money-index.