Kohli's earnings are impressive, however he has yet to reach the heights of the man he replaced as India's skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who Forbes listed at 22 on their top 100 in 2014 with an annual pay packet of $30 million.
Forbes used salary and bonus data between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018 to create the list.
Kohli jumped six places from his previous year's position as no women feature in the 100-athlete list. Mayweather easily won that bout, but McGregor has the solace of ranking number four on the Forbes list, with estimated earnings of $99 million.
Mayweather Jr. heads the world's highest-paid athletes for the fourth time in seven years, thanks to a $275 million payday for his August boxing match against UFC star Conor McGregor.
Barcelona's Argentine star Messi narrowly surpassed Ronaldo after signing a new contract at Barcelona, but the Portuguese, Mayweather and golfer Tiger Woods - this year ranked 16th - remained the only three to top the best-paid list during the past 18 years. There are no hockey players on the list.
Completing the top 10 were basketball's LeBron James ($85.5M), tennis' Roger Federer ($77.2M), basketball's Stephen Curry ($76.9M) and quarterbacks Matt Ryan ($67.3M) and Matthew Stafford ($59.5M).
While McGregor came in at No. 4, his opponent, Floyd Mayweather, ended up at No. 1 overall with reported earnings at $285 million.
The third driver included on the Forbes rich and happy 100 list is predictably Fernando Alonso, who enjoyed a $32M paycheck from McLaren and $1M in endorsements.
The top 100 athletes earned a total of $3.8bn, up 23% from a year ago.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is the highest earning National Football League player, coming in at ninth with $88 million.
Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry was the only other National Basketball Association player to feature in the top 10, with earnings of $101 million. However, that was about $5 million less than National Basketball Association player Nicolas Batum, who landed the 100th spot on the list.