They have the brawn and the talent, and now, they also have the money. These ten athletes are the best of the best in their respective fields and they have translated their success into millions of dollars in earnings and commercial endorsements. They are winners not only in terms of sports glory, but also in financial wealth.
1. Floyd Mayweather, Boxing – $85 million
He responds to the name of Money, and Pretty Boy Floyd has every right to do so. He chooses his opponents carefully, and then methodically cuts them down. He is unbeaten in professional boxing, and has plowed down the likes of Miguel Cotto, Oscar dela Hoya and Shane Mosley, all of who are potential Hall of Fame inductees. Mayweather also knows how to sell his fights, often building an intense antagonism with his opponent to further stoke the public’s interest. And it pays off all the time. The three biggest pay-per-view fights in history outside the heavyweight ranks were all co-headlined by Mayweather. He is considered the best boxer pound-for-pound in the world today, although he can certainly cement that status, as well as earn even more money, if he heeds the public’s clamor for him to fight Manny Pacquiao. It would not hurt if he turns in a good leaf too. Imagine if companies will consider him as an ideal endorser; that would certainly add to his $85 million in pure earnings.
2. Manny Pacquiao, Boxing – $62 million
Once considered the best boxer in the world pound-for-pound with titles in eight weight classes, he has since dropped to second spot. Not that he has stopped fighting, but his victories over Mosley and Antonio Margarito were not as resounding, as he showed mercy to his outclassed opponents and did not go for a knockout. There was also the controversial win over nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, as well as an equally controversial loss to Timothy Bradley, in which nobody outside of the three judges and Bradley himself thought of the decision as correct. Perhaps, only a fight with Mayweather will wake him up from his recent stupor, though he has been awake enough to maximize his earnings by agreeing to several commercial deals. The man known as Pacman has gobbled up endorsements with Hewlett Packard, Nike and Hennessey.
3. Tiger Woods, Golf – $59.4 million
There was a time when golf enthusiasts wonder if Tiger Woods would ever lose. After a messy divorce, Tiger’s game has dropped and many are now wondering if he will ever win again. Not that he really needs it. His status as an all-time great has already been confirmed by his 14 victories in major tournaments. And he still raked in nearly $60 million last year, including $4.4 million in endorsements. Those numbers may be peanuts compared to previous years when he was top of the list, but they are still good enough for number three. Besides, he is still only 36 years old, which is not that old in golfing terms. So watch out, as the Tiger is still on the prowl.
4. Lebron James, Basketball – $53 million
Critics have always been waiting for Lebron to make a mistake. They say he disappears during the clutch, passes the ball when he needs to take it strong to the hoop, and gives responsibility to his teammates too much. Lebron made them all shut up last year when he finally got his ring. He can play four positions on the hard court, can defend as well as anyone, and can do pretty much anything with the basketball. He may not be the NBA’s top earner salary-wise, but his prowess has attracted companies like Nike, McDonalds, Sprite and Audemars Piguet. Endorsements alone bring him $40 million.
5. Roger Federer, Tennis – $52.7 million
Years of domination at the top was followed by successful challenges from players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but Roger Federer still knows how to win. And he proved it by winning in Wimbledon again earlier this year, his 17th major and 7th in the most prestigious tournament of all. Even if he doesn’t win that many tournaments anymore, endorsements with Nike, Rolex and Mercedes Benz will help keep Federer more than afloat.
6. Kobe Bryant, Basketball – $52.3 million
He is the highest-paid player in the NBA. He has five rings, has been the MVP and has two Olympic gold medals. He has lucrative deals with Nike, Vitamin Water and Turkish Airlines. The Black Mamba has got it all.
7. Phil Mickelson, Golf – $47.8 million
Mickelson is right-handed but with a southpaw swing, thus earning himself the nickname Lefty. And Lefty has delivered, winning four majors along the way. He has struck it huge in the endorsement game as well, with Rolex, Exxon and Callaway all under his wing.
8. David Beckham, Soccer – $46 million
This guy is a winner. He has played for arguably the most glamorous teams in the toughest leagues in the world, namely Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan. He has won domestic and European championships along the way. He now plays for the LA Galaxy in the US, where he currently resides with his Spice Girl wife, Victoria. And he has a lucrative deal with Adidas, Samsung and H&M.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer – $42.5 million
His skills while he was at Sporting Clube de Portugal when he was 18 caught the attention of Manchester United, which promptly signed him up. His all-around play at Old Trafford caught the attention of Real Madrid, which pried him away for more than $130 million. His sublime artistry has caught the attention of Nike and Castrol, which pay him $22 million for his endorsement. And he has caught the attention of the world, having won various Player of the Year honors the past few years.
10. Peyton Manning, Football – $42.4 million
Sidelined for an extended period because of injuries, Manning took his talent to Denver after 13 years in Indianapolis. He won the Super Bowl with the Colts, and he aims to do the same for the Broncos. And Gatorade and MasterCard couldn’t be any happier; after all, they still have an elite quarterback to promote their brands.