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Fun Facts about the Forbes 2013 World’s Highest Paid Athletes

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Tiger WoodsI love all of Forbes’ sports related money/valuation/richest lists. Every year I take a peek at the World’s Highest Paid list and I’m not terribly surprised that the names that dot the top.

So who makes up the top five? Tiger Woods, Roger Rederer, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Drew Brees. Total take? $322.3 million. If you add the second half of the top ten, total earnings is $552.50 million. In fact, if the top ten were a country, it would be 189th on the GDP list according to the United Nations.

How are the sports represented?

  • Baseball: 27 athletes, $588.4 million in total earnings.
  • Basketball: 21 athletes, $547.7 million
  • Boxing: 3 athletes, $92 million
  • Cricket: 2 athletes, 53.5 million
  • Football (American): 13 athletes, $397 million
  • Golf: 5 athletes, $194.9 million.
  • Motorcycle: 1 athlete, $22 million
  • Racing: 7 athletes, $162 million
  • Soccer: 14 athletes, $347.3 million
  • Tennis: 5 athletes, $192.5 million
  • Track: 1 athlete, $24.2 million

In the top ten, we have two golfers, one tennis player, two basketball players, two football players, and three soccer players. The two football players, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, took the fewest dollars in endorsements at $6 million and $11 million respectively, while every other athlete had at least $20 million in endorsements.

Here are some other interesting statistics:

  1. The total earnings of the top hundred is $2,623.4 million. Total endorsements is $784.8 million, or 29.9% of total earnings.
  2. Tiger Woods was at the top with $78.1 million, Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon soccer player) rounded out the list with $16.4 million.
  3. If Tiger Woods were a country, he’d be the 194th country in the world by GDP ahead of Kiribati, Nauru, Montserrat, and Tuvalu. If you recognize any of those countries/territories, pat yourself on the back.
  4. Youngest athlete in the top ten is Lionel Messi (25) and Phil Mickelson is the oldest (42).
  5. On the broader list, the youngest is soccer star Neymar with $20.5 million at the age of 21. The oldest is Ernie Els at 43 with $19.5. Mickelson is just a year younger and third oldest is forty year old cricket player Sachin Tendulkar with $22 million.
  6. In the top ten, one is divorced, two are single, five are (happily) married, and two are engaged.
  7. Highest ranked single athlete? Aaron Rodgers at #6. Christiano Ronaldo is also single, if you’re willing to go down to #9.
  8. Baseball was the most well represented sport in the list but their top guy, Alex Rodriquez, was ranked 18th. I’m sure he had some help.
  9. The highest sport average per athlete on the list was golf ($38.98 million per) followed by tennis ($38.5 million per) – this is definitely representative of the sporting average though.
  10. The top three sports in terms of endorsement dollars are Basketball ($164 million across 21 athletes), Tennis ($150 million across 6 athletes), and Golf ($143 million across 5 athletes). Honorable mention goes to soccer with $128 million across fourteen athletes.
  11. Two athletes had $0 in endorsements, Carl Nicks (Offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints) and Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
  12. The two highest salaried athletes are both football quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers took in $43 million and Drew Brees settled for only $40 million. Flacco was #3 with $35.9 million.
  13. I don’t know what to call it but Floyd Mayweather fought just once in the time frame of the survey and pocketed $34 million for his time in the ring.
  14. Of the 13 football players, there are seven quarterbacks, three wide receivers, one running back, one defensive lineman and one offensive lineman.
  15. I’ll give you one guess who the lone track star was. (Hint: he’s fast)
  16. Derrick Rose was 12th, netting $37.4 million, without playing a single game this NBA season.
  17. Andrew Bynum, out this year with bone spurs in both knees, took 97th with $16.7 million.
  18. Amar’e Stoudemire pocketed $27 million in salary and endorsements, missing 88 games in two years (61% of games). His agent, Happy Walters, is going to change his name to Ecstatic Walters.
  19. How is Gilbert Arenas on this list at $56 with $21.6 million? Oh yeah, he should thank the Washington Wizards and guaranteed NBA contracts (he currently plays the Shanghai Sharks).
  20. Each of the Big Three of the Miami Heat are on the list. Lebron James at #4, Dwyane Wade is #23, and Chris Bosh is #75. Total earnings of $108.5 million.
  21. In terms of “teams,” the Miami Heat weren’t #1. The highest goes to the Los Angeles Lakers with a total of $109.9 million with Kobe Bryant ($61.9 million), Dwight Howard (26.5 million), and Pau Gasol ($21.5 million).
  22. The highest athlete in endorsements to salary/winnings ratio (endorsements/salary) is pretty obvious – Usain Bolt at 120. You don’t get paid when you’re in the Olympics but your home country’s Olympic committee can pay a medal bonus (last year, American golds were paid $25,000, silver got $15,000, and bronze got $10,000).
  23. The next three athletes in endorsements to salary/winnings ratio are golfer Phil Mickelson (9.36), soccer star David Beckham (8.07), and cricket player Mahendra Singh Dhoni (8).
  24. There are three women on the list, the rest are men.
  25. Highest woman was Maria Sharapova at 22nd with $6 million in earnings and $23 million in endorsements. Second highest female was Serena Williams at 68th with $8.5 million in earnings and $12 million in endorsements.
  26. Tallest in the list? I think it’s Dirk Nowitzki at 7 feet.
  27. Shortest is a tie between Ray Rice and Li Na at 5′ 8″.

Most of the athletes were at least mid-twenties and usually in the early thirties. This is often the case with athletes of the major sports in the United States. Many sports have rookie contract salary scales and endorsements, so you need to perform before you get your “big money” 2nd contract. If you keep performing, you get into your third contract where we see many baseball and football players in the list.

Endorsements are often performance driven and strong performers in individual sports with high visibility get the most endorsements. Is it a surprise that Tiger Woods and Roger Federer take numbers one and two? Tiger was #3 last year and Federer was #5 (#1-#2 last year were Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao on the shoulders of their winnings). In fact, if you took out the two boxers, you pretty much have the same names shuffled around in the top ten.

Fun facts! Did you see any fun facts in that list that bears mentioning?

(Credit: Keith Allison)

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5 Responses to “Fun Facts about the Forbes 2013 World’s Highest Paid Athletes”

  1. Matt says:

    No hockey?

    BOOOO!

  2. Mike says:

    that was fun to read.
    thanks for sharing.

  3. Shafi says:

    And I went to grad school for what? For the great income of $75,000.

  4. Was this worldwide or here in the US?

  5. Steve says:

    No way Clay Matthew should be on this list.


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