Exclusive: I'll eclipse Ronaldo as highest paid athlete - McGregor
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[November 02, 2017]
By Philip O'Connor
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Forget cage
fighting, boxing and world titles - Irishman Conor McGregor's next
goal is to build a financial empire and eclipse Real Madrid soccer
icon Cristiano Ronaldo to become the highest-paid athlete in the
The 29-year-old UFC lightweight champion told Reuters of his
ambition in an exclusive interview ahead of the premier of
"Notorious", a documentary film charting his rise from penniless
plumber to the face of one the world's fastest-growing sports.
In the film, McGregor makes no secret of the dreams that drove him
to become a two-weight UFC champion and fight unbeaten boxing great
Floyd Mayweather in front of an audience of millions, but his
current aims are more banking than sporting.
"You know, I just dream of hitting that 'billy' mark, if I'm being
honest," he said. "I'm cruising toward that billion-dollar mark."
McGregor wants to top the Forbes 100 list of the world's
highest-paid athletes through a combination of new business ventures
such as tailored suits and "Notorious" brand whiskey plus fight
purses, pay-per-view and sponsorship revenue.
"Ronaldo was number one last year, I was number 24... with $34
million in revenue," McGregor said, adding that he pocketed an
eye-watering $140 million from his 10th round technical knockout
defeat by Mayweather in their boxing match in August.
"Next year, if it stands as is, Floyd will be number one, I'll be
number two, and Ronaldo will be number three (on the Forbes list).
If I fight one or two more times I will overtake him (Mayweather),"
"So that's what my goal is right now - number one, highest-paid
athlete Forbes 2018, make my way toward the billion-dollar mark, and
then continue to go."
McGregor said he will be looking to co-promote future fights with
the UFC as well as getting a stake in the company -- an
unprecedented situation for an organization that tends to steer its
roster of fighters with an iron fist.
"It is certainly something I will seek. I will seek equity in the
company, I will seek to be a part of the company... it makes sense
form all angles, but we'll see. We're in the negotiations stage."
The 29-year-old, who hasn't fought in the octagon since beating
Eddie Alvarez to claim the UFC lightweight title a year ago,
enthused about rapper P Diddy's business ventures and outlined his
own plans to build a similar financial empire.
"You know P Diddy doesn't even make music? $750 million he's worth.
Highest-paid celebrity, highest-paid rapper, multiple years in a
row. He doesn't even make music, he makes vodka. We're following
this formula," he said.
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Conor McGregor reacts as Artem Lobov (red gloves, not pictured)
fights Andre Fili (blue gloves, not pictured) during UFC Fight Night
at Ergo Arena. Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
It's a far cry from the spartan conditions shown in the early part
of the film as McGregor embarks on his fighting career, training in
a run-down gym and fighting on local cards to make a name for
"The world I was in then to the world I'm in now, it's alien to me.
It's just a completely different ball game. It took me back, it
almost humbled me," he said.
"(But) I'm just the same person. As far as everything else, there's
a lot around me that has changed. But me? I'm the same person. I'm
cocky, I'm arrogant but I'm hard-working, I'm humble. I'm a mix of
things," he said.
McGregor, who has come in for plenty of criticism for his public use
of racist and misogynistic language while promoting his fights,
apologized for his recent use of a homophobic slur backstage at a
UFC event in Poland.
"I must remember constantly that I am a role model to kids, I am an
athlete, I am a man, I have a son, but I'm 29, I'm only a kid myself
and I'm trying to figure it all out," he said.
Displaying a humility he is not usually known for, McGregor said he
is not upset by the criticism or the scrutiny.
"Who would I be to complain about that? People have real problems.
People wake up every day cold, there are people sleeping on the
street, people starving, and you hear famous people complaining
"Life is good for me. So what if I'm scrutinized or thrown under the
bus a few times a week? I'm truly, truly blessed to be in the
position I'm in and there's not a day goes by that I don't wake up
and thank my lucky, lucky stars," he said.
"Notorious" will be shown in selected cinemas in Ireland, the United
Kingdom, the U.S. and Australia before being made available on DVD
and for download on Nov. 20.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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