Historical | Celebrities | Political Media | Athletes | Other
The sport with the top paid athlete varies when there is one superstar who dominates. It was Michael Jordan in the late 90's, Michael Schumacher (Formula 1 race driver) in 2000-2002 and Tiger woods since 2003.
Although Golf, Soccer and Auto Racing have the top superstars, basketball has more athletes in the top 20 (5) than golf (4) or soccer and auto racing (3).

Annual Earnings Including endorsements 2007-08
Note: Earnings from endorsements are only estimates.
Figures are from a variety of sources and don't necessairly cover exactly the same time periods.
Rank 1
GolfTiger Woods$128$23$10511
Phil Mickelson6295326
Vijay Singh (2007)32  17 
Earnie Els (2007)30  20 
Arnold Palmer (2006)27  26 
Michelle Wie (2007) 31901934 
Annika Sorenstam19  3519
Lorena Ochoa10  4018
SoccerDavid Beckham - LA Galaxy48  32
Ronaldinho - FC Barcelona38  920
Lionel Messi - FC Barcelona36  10 
Cristiano Ronaldo - Manchester United30  21 
Auto Racing 2Kimi Räikkönen - F146  49
Fernando Alonso - F135  1112
Valentino Rossi - Motorcycle35  12 
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Nascar275222713
Jeff Gordon - Nascar2611152810
BasketballMichael Jordan - retired42 4264
LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers40122873
Kobe Bryant - LA Lakers351916135
Shaquille O'Neal - Phoenix Suns3520151411
Yao Ming - Houston Rockets32  18 
Kevin Garnett - Boston Celtics312291914
BaseballAlex Rodriguez - Yankees35296158
Derek Jeter - Yankees3022822 
Ichiro Suzuki - Seattle Mariners28  25 
Manny Ramirez - Dogers2320330 
Johan Santana - Mets21  32 
Hideki Matsui - Yankees19  36 
FootballPeyton Manning - Indianapolis Colts30171323 
Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers2523229 
JaMarcus Russell - Oakland Raiders2120133 
Tom Brady - New England Patriots1881036 
Eli Manning - New York Giants158738 
TennisRoger Federer35926167
Maria Sharapova222203115
Rafael Nadal18  37 
Serena Williams14  3916
Justine Henin12   17
BoxngOscar de la Hoya44  5 
Floyd Mayweather Jr. 44020208 
CyclingLance Armstrong (2006)30  24 
Shaun White (2009)6   
Bode Miller (2009)3   
1. Rank - Earnings from Sports Illustrated:
The International 20 and Fortune 50 (Americans)
  Celebrity from athletes in Fortune survey.

2. Formula 1 auto racer,Michael Schumacher, made $70 Million (about the same as Tiger Woods) in 2002 and Michael Jordan in 1999.
3.Michelle Wie's golf game has dropped off since 2006, when she played in a mens PGA tournament and missed the cut by 4 strokes. As of Feb., 2009 she has never won a LPGA tournament, but is still making a lot from endorsements. Her appearance fees have dropped off with her game. Both Ochoa and Sorenstam were ranked ahead of her in some 2008 salary lists.
4. Mayweather's earnings were primairly from one fight with de la Hoya and a one-fight pro-wrestling deal.
4. Endorsements includes appearance fees which were about $1 M/appearance for Federer .

The International 20 and Fortune 50 (Americans) at sportsillustrated.cnn.com
The World's Most powerful Athelets at Forbes (#'s refer to allcelebrities[Opra #1])

Number of athletes in The Sports Illustrated American top 50:
Auto Racing23
Number in Forbes
Top 100 celebrities list
Basketball  5
Golf        4
Tennis      4
Auto Racing 4
Soccer      2
Baseball    1
Other notable athletes not listed:
Danica Patrick (auto racing),Lewis Hamilton (auto racing),Venus Williams (tennis),Andy Roddick (tennis),Freddy Adu (soccer)

Average Salaries for major league athletes (2006):
  * Basketball (NBA) $5,000,000
  * Baseball (MLB)   $2,800,000
  * Football (NFL)   $1,250,000
  * Hockey (NHL)     $1,500,000
  * Men's Golf         $973,495 †
  * Women's Tennis     $345,000 *
  * Men's Tennis (ATP) $260,000 *
  * Women's Golf       $162,043
  * Basketball (WNBA)   $52,000
  * Minor league baseball $850-$2,000/mo or $4,250-$10,000/season

* There are more men playing professional tennis (av. rank = 90) than
women (av. rank = 40).
† - Tiger Woods has raised the purses for everyone in men's golf.

Percentage of Revenue that goes to Athletes:
NFL 62%
NBA 57%
NHL 56%
MLB 52%
ATP 26% (tennis)
Source: Tennis Magazine, Apr. 2009

Surveys conducted by talent agency Davie Brown and Marketing Evaluations, compute the Q score ratings used by potential advertisers when considering which celebrities to use in their spots.
Consumer research determines purlic awareness of athlete or celebrity along with a number of characteristics, including appeal and trustworthiness.
Being in high profile ad campaigns helps to bring more high profile ad campaigns.

	Top 10 Jan. 2007
1. Tiger Woods 
2. Michael Jordan 
3. Muhammad Ali 
4. George Foreman 
5. Lance Armstrong 
6. Magic Johnson 
7. Shaquille O'Neal 
8. Joe Montana 
9. Terry Bradshaw 
10. Andre Agassi 
Current examples in tennis are Maria Sharapova who has a high Q Score and Roger Federer who has a low Q Score.

In an Article at the Harvard Business School,"The Economic Value of Athlete Endorsers", by Anita Elberse, says:
"To our knowledge, beyond anecdotal evidence captured in popular and trade publications (e.g., The New York Times 2008), no research exists on the impact of endorsements on sales ."

last updated 25 Mar 2009