Sports Illustrated has released its seventh annual “Fortunate 50″ list, which gives us a sense of the type of money American athletes made last year based on salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees. Despite the epic downfall of his image, Tiger Woods remained at the top of the list with nearly $30 million to spare. Phil Mickelson held strong at No. 2 on the list and can probably thank Tiger’s demise for any extra cash that may have been thrown his way over the past year. Here are a few aspects of the list that stuck out to me:
Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Want an idea of how much money can be made in boxing? Mayweather, who may or may not be ducking Manny Pacquiao, checked in at No. 3 on the list after not being ranked in 2009. While most of the top athletes on the list rake in a ton in endorsements, Mayweather made only $250,000 in endorsement deals and the rest — $60 million — in salary and winnings. A bout with Shane Mosley alone earned him $40 million.
Shaquille O’Neal: Shaq’s game may have fallen off, but his bankroll certainly hasn’t. After coming in at No. 5 on the 2009 list, he dropped only one spot in 2010 despite a relatively ineffective season where he spent more time getting ink than he did on the court. Big Daddy Diesel still managed to pull in $21 million in salary and $15 million in endorsements in 2010.
NFL Players: Here’s where we really get an idea of how much a salary cap makes a difference. Major League Baseball contracts are known for being the most lucrative in sports on average, which is due to the absence of a salary cap. With no NFL salary cap in 2010, teams have structured players’ deals to pay them handsomely this year. The NFL showcases 15 players in the top 50 while the MLB has 13. When the salary cap returns, expect that number to plummet. If a new CBA can’t be agreed upon, the number may go to zero in 2011.
New York Yankees: Of the 13 MLB players that appear on the list, it’s no surprise that five are New York Yankees. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and that self-inflicting injury guy A.J. Burnett all made the list. If you want to get paid, take your services to New York.
Jermaine O’Neal: O’Neal was once an offensive powerhouse with the Indiana Pacers. For a short time he was a perennial 20-10 guy, but that fell apart quickly. A lingering knee problem has led him to a two-year, $12 million deal with the Boston Celtics. He checked in at No. 22 on the 2010 list. Talk about a bad contract. His salary paid him more than a whopping $23 million and made him the second-highest paid player in the NBA last season. That’s gotta hurt the pockets.
The 50 highest-earning American athletes [Sports Illustrated]