Just perused Fortunate 50, Sports Illustrated’s analysis of the top paid athletes.  They concentrated on active athletes from North American sport, combining salary and endorsement deals.  Here are a few things on the list that stood out…


Kevin Durant is making over $20 million in endorsements, not bad for a rookie.  This includes the $12 million signing bonus from Nike.  Durant turned down an offer from Addidas that was worth $10 million more than the 7 year, $60 million he received from Nike.  You gotta admire that kind of loyalty.



Jason Giambi and Michael Finley are both making $21 million in base salary, earning them top billing on the Most Over Paid Athletes In History list, joined by Stephon Marbury, Carlos Delgado,


How could Tim Duncan be making less in endorsements than Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Jim Furyk, and Eli Manning?


Top Ten in endorsements…

Tiger Woods…$105,000,000

Phil Mickelson…$62,000,000

LeBron James…$28,000,000

Dale Earnhart Jr.…$22,000,000

Kevin Durant…$21,000,000

Floyd Mayweather Jr.…$20,000,000

Kobe Bryant…$16,000,000

Dwight Howard…$15,500,000

Jeff Gordon…$15,000,000

Shaquille O’Neal…$15,000,000


Finley & Giambi…combined salary=$42,000,000…combined endorsements=$1,000,000

Floyd Mayweather…half the salary, 20x the endorsements.


I have the feeling JaMarcus Russell’s endorsements will exponentially improve from the current $650,000 if he can pilot the most iconic franchise in football to a few more Ws than last year.


How is two-time defending Nextel Cup champion Jimmy Johnson only getting $3,000,000 in endorsements?


The All Over Paid NBA Team…

Michael Finley…$21,000,000

Stephon Marbury…$19,000,000

Jermain O’Niel…$19,000,000

Antawn Jamison…$16,360,000

Shawn Marion…$16,440,000

Steve Francis…$16,800,000


Wow, Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals wideout and one of the best receivers in football, is making a paltry $250,000 in endorsements.


Is Eli Manning, currently making $8,450,000, underpaid?


The internationals aren’t doing too shabby either…

David Beckham is making over $48,000,000.  Cristiano Ronaldo, oh ye of the $30 million price tag, is now the subject of the most expensive bidding war in the history of sport. 


There are no female athletes on the Fortunate 50.


Boy, signing bonuses are the shizzle, just ask Ben Roethlisberger, JaMarcus Russell, Larry Fitzgerald, and Jared Allen.


Other news from around the gilded plate of the highest paid athletes in sports…


Oscar De La Hoya earned a staggering record of $43 million for his May 2007 fight with Floyd Mayweather.


Kimi Raikonen is the highest paid race car driver on the planet, earning a cool $40 million for Formula One stalwart Ferrari, replacing the recently retired Michael Schumacher, who incidentally earned a paltry $36 million in 2007.


Michael Jordan even four years into retirement is still making over $30 million a year in endorsements and merchandising sales.  His iconic shoes still generate over $500 million a year for Nike.


Valentino Rossi, the MotoGP World Champion, is among the ten highest paid athletes on earth, making $30 million a year racing motorcycles.  (Note to self: should have parlayed those dozen speeding tickets to a viable career)


Despite having won only two majors since 2003, the 2005 & 2007 Australian Open, Serena Williams is still netting over $20 million a year from endorsement deals with McDonald’s, Nike, and Este Lauder.


At the tender age of 18, Michelle Wie, who’s never won a LPGA tournament, makes nearly twice as much as legend Annika Sorenstam, $19 vs. $10 million, respectively.


The list of Nike sponsored athletes is mind boggling…

Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobli, Ronaldihno, Robihno, Wayne Rooney, LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Urlacher, Alex Rodriguez, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, etc.  Nike lavishes its endorsement properties with over $500,000,000 annualy, roughly 40% of its annual advertising budget.  Nike is the straw that stirs the global sports cocktail.


When looking at the numbers it seems basketball and soccer layers are proportionately the most powerful and highest earner athletes in the world.  But no individual is the marketing juggernaut Tiger Woods has become.  Tiger has been making over $50 million in endorsements every year since the millennium switch.  As of January 2008, Woods has earned a staggering $100 million in winnings and $700 million in endorsements.  At this pace Tiger will become the first billionaire athlete in 2010.  To put this into perspective, the previous king of the athlete marketing world, one Michael Jordan, has a net worth barely half that of Woods, roughly $400 million versus Woods’ nest egg of $800 million.




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