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Faster, Higher, Stronger. And Richer: The world’s highest-paid sportpeople

Our colleagues in Forbes in the USA just put out their list of the world’s highest-paid sportspeople. And it makes for some interesting reading.

But let’s get the India bit out of the way first.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni press meet

Photo: Getty Images

Mahendra Singh Dhoni broke into the top 20, with USD 31.50m (3.50m on the field, and 28m in endorsements), and Sachin Tendulkar came in at #51, with USD 22m (4m on-field, more than Dhoni, but a more modest 22m in endorsements).

Trivia: both are in the last 5—Tendulkar at 96, Dhoni at 97—when it comes to just salaries and winnings, but Dhoni is at a very healthy #7 worldwide on income from endorsements, and Tendulkar is #14.

Right then. So who was khiladi number one worldwide?

Tiger Woods put all his troubles behind him and climbed back from #3 last year to the top spot he held through most of the 2000s, with USD 78.10 million, USD 13.10m from winnings and USD 65m from endoresements.

Roger Federer follows at #2, with USD 71.50 m, with USD 6.5m on court, and a whopping ten times that from endorsements. (He and Woods tie for most money earned from endorsements.)

At #3 and #4 are American basketballers Kobe Bryant (USD 61.90m) and LeBron James (USD 59.80m). At #5 and #6, US football players Drew Brees (USD 51m) and Aaron Rodgers (USD 49m). Golfer Phil Mickelson is #7 (USD 48.7m). And three maestros of the Beautiful Game round off the top ten: David Beckham (USD 47.2m), Cristiano Ronaldo (USD 44m), and Lionel Messi (USD 41.3m).

Two clear facts spring out from the list.

One. it’s a man’s world still. There are just three women in the top 100: Maria Sharapova, from Russia (rank 22), Serena Williams, USA (68) and Li Na, China (85); all tennis players.

And two, if you want to make money playing sport, America is indeed the land of milk and honey. Six of the top ten are Americans, with an interloper at #2 playing tennis, very popular in the USA, and it’s only at #8, #9, and #10, with the footballers, that the rest of the world gets a peek in.

That’s not all. A whopping 63 of the top 100 are US citizens. The other 37 are from the UK (5), Spain (4), Argentina and Venezuela (3 each), Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Germany and India (2 each), and Cameroon, China, Dominican Republic, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine (1 apiece).

Out of these 37, another 19 either make their fortunes playing the bulk of their sport in the USA (like basketball, or baseball) or play a sport that’s hugely popular in the USA (like tennis or golf).

Join me in a chorus of America The Beautiful, anyone?

A little more about the data. The top three on the basis of on-field earning alone all play American football: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Joe Flacco. The American boxer Floyd Mayweather is #4, with another American football player, Tom Brady at #5. Then comes Alex Rodriguez (baseball), F1 driver Fernando Alonso, basketballer Kobe Bryant, and another boxer, Manny Pacquiao from the Philippines. At #10, another F1 driver, Lewis Hamilton.

Usain Bolt is all the way down at #100 for on-field earnings (USD 200,000), but he makes more than a hundred times that in endorsements (USD 24m).

On endorsements alone, the world order goes thus: Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Phil Mickelson, LeBron James, David Beckham, Kobe Bryant, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Usain Bolt, Maria Sharapova and Cristiano Ronlado.

At the other end of the scale, 35 members of the list make less than a USD 1 million from endorsements, with two of those (boxer Floyd Mayweather and American football player Carl Nicks making nothing from the advertisers.

The list as a whole reflects this, with these elite sportspersons making a cumulative USD 839.2 million as salaries and winnings, and less than half that, USD 784.8 million, in endorsements.

Overall, the top hundred make about USD 2.6 billion between them. Small change when it comes to the Forbes India Rich List, but hey, they get to make all that money playing sports!

Here’s a quick glance at the top 20. (For the full list, go here , see a slide-show featuring the list members here, and read related features here.)

Figures in millions of US dollars. Values calculated June 2013.

Rank Name Country Sport Salary/
Winnings
Endorsements Total Pay

1

Tiger Woods USA Golf

13.10

65.00

78.10

2

Roger Federer Switzerland Tennis

6.50

65.00

71.50

3

Kobe Bryant USA Basketball

27.90

34.00

61.90

4

LeBron James USA Basketball

17.80

42.00

59.80

5

Drew Brees USA American Football

40.00

11.00

51.00

6

Aaron Rodgers USA American Football

43.00

6.00

49.00

7

Phil Mickelson USA Golf

4.70

44.00

48.70

8

David Beckham UK Football

5.20

42.00

47.20

9

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Football

23.00

21.00

44.00

10

Lionel Messi Argentina Football

20.30

21.00

41.30

11

Tom Brady USA American Football

31.30

7.00

38.30

12

Derrick Rose USA Basketball

16.40

21.00

37.40

13

Joe Flacco USA American Football

35.90

0.90

36.80

14

Manny Pacquiao Philippines Boxing

26.00

8.00

34.00

14

Floyd Mayweather USA Boxing

34.00

0.00

34.00

16

Mahendra Singh Dhoni India Cricket

3.50

28.00

31.50

17

Kevin Durant USA Basketball

16.90

14.00

30.90

18

Alex Rodriguez USA Baseball

29.80

0.50

30.30

19

Peyton Manning USA American Football

18.00

12.00

30.00

19

Fernando Alonso Spain Car Racing

28.00

2.00

30.00

 

A bit of useless trivia? The only two in the list who are known by just one name are Brazilian footballers Kaka (#79) and Neymar (#68).

Post updated to correct the terrible, terrible error of listing Messi’s country as Brazil. May his legion of fans forgive me.

 

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Sachi Mohanty
Well, thanks but no thanks! I won't click on those links to the full list or slide show or feature. May be this was 10 years ago, I would have done that. I wish someone would do some innovative comparison such as how do these incomes of the top players compare against other economic statistics of their nationalities. I will only comment about the matter of the two cricketers Sachi and Dhoni being in the list. I wish Indians would get over their fascination and obsession with this silly thing called cricket so that we longer have silly players in these lists and more importantly, hundreds of millions of people spend billions of hours per year in something more productive ... or even more entertaining or infotaining. My wish will never come true ...
 
 
Peter Griffin
I handle the 'Life' section of Forbes India and oversee social media.
In previous lives, I was an advertising creative director, voice-over artist, RJ, TV host, web producer and content architect, freelance travel writer, columnist, and consultant to NGOs.
I've been blogging since 2003, and co-founded the South-East Asia Tsunami & Earthquake and Mumbai Help blogs (which, with other similar initiatives later became the WorldWideHelp group), and the writers’ community, Caferati. I'm a keen student of collaboration and online culture. I've also co-curated the Literature section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival from 2006 to 2012.
Aside from Twitter (link below), you could also follow me on Facebook or Google+.
 
 
 
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June 07, 2013 14:24 pm by Sachi Mohanty
Well, thanks but no thanks! I won't click on those links to the full list or slide show or feature. May be this was 10 years ago, I would have done that. I wish someone would do some innovative comparison such as how do these incomes of the top players compare against other economic statistics of...
 
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