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The 10 highest earning sports stars in the world

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We may be in the midst of a global economic meltdown, but the world’s top sports stars are still up to their necks in cash.


According to the Forbes list of celebrity wealth, here are the 10 richest sports stars in the world today.

10. Alex Rodriguez – Baseball – £21m per annum
The New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez is the youngest player to have ever hit 500 home runs. In 2007 A-Rod signed a record breaking 10 year, $275 million contract, to become the highest paid player in baseball history. The previous record was his existing contract with the Yankees, which paid $252 million.

In total Rodriguez’s career earnings from baseball alone stand at $197,431,586. Add to that his lucrative endorsements with the likes of Nike, Rawlings and Topps and the 33 year old is sitting on a fortune.

Rodriguez divorced last year, amidst claims of an affair with Madonna. Following the split from his wife Cynthia, A-Rod placed their marital home on the market for $14.9 million, though he has since dropped the price to $12.3 million.

This at least proves that the rich and famous aren’t entirely impervious to the credit crunch, but I think he’ll get by.


9. Roger Federer – Tennis – £21.5m per annum
Having won 13 Grand Slam titles, Federer has coined millions in prize money and has sponsorship deals with Nike, Rolex and Gillette. His marketing company have claimed that Federer is the wealthiest tennis player of all time and he has been named as one of the 300 wealthiest people in Switzerland (an area where the neighbours tend to have a little dough).

Unlike some of his sporting contemporaries, Federer has kept his feet on the ground. In a 2007 interview with Sports Illustrated he admitted to not even owning a house.

8. Ronaldinho – Football – £23m per annum
Like Federer, Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho has been upstaged by young upstarts such as Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka in recent years, but he’s still sitting pretty from the days when he was widely accepted as the greatest player in the world.

Ronaldinho has enjoyed massive contacts with soccer giants Barcelona and present club AC Milan, as well as commercial deals with Nike, Pepsi and Cadbury Schweppes. It is arguable that it has been the contentedness that comes with such wealth, which has been responsible for Ronaldinho’s loss of form.

7. LeBron James – Basketball – £23.5m per annum
LeBron James was never going to be short of money from the day that he signed a $90 million contract with Nike, before he’d even made his professional debut. LeBron was the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft, joining the Cleveland Cavaliers.

At 24-years-old, married to his childhood sweetheart and a father of two, clean cut LeBron is a marketing man’s dream. James has stated that he intends to become the world’s first billionaire athlete.

The home he is currently building is certainly fit for a billionaire. At 35,000 square foot, it’s certainly roomy. Having knocked down the pre-existing 11 bedroom house on the site, LeBron’s mansion will include a full size casino, a six-car garage and bowling alley.

6. Kobe Bryant – Basketball – £24m per annum
Kobe Bryant plays his basketball in Los Angeles and only a select few of Hollywood’s great and good can claim to earn more than the Lakers’ shooting guard.

Bryant saw many of his endorsement deals ripped up after he was accused of rape in 2003. The exception was Nike, who had just signed him to a 5-year $45 million contract prior to the incident. In addition to this, he is signed to a 6-year $71 million deal with the Lakers.

After the rape accusation, Bryant bought his wife Vanessa a $4 million diamond ring as an apology. It must be nice to get out of the doghouse so easily. Most of us would be on dishwashing duty for at least a month.

5. Kimi Räikkönen – Formula One – £27m per annum
Kimi Räikkönen became the highest paid man in motor racing when he joined the Ferrari team in a three year deal and earned his money when he walked away with the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship in his first season.

The Finnish driver leads something of a playboy lifestyle and in 2005 got into trouble with his former employers on the McClaren team, when he began cavorting with a lapdancer at a London club, before embarking on his own strip show

Räikkönen is now settled down and married to Jenni Dahlman, a former Miss Scandinavia. Well, she would be enough to see anyone onto the straight and narrow.

4. Phil Mickelson – Golf – £27.5m per annum
If there was no one on earth named Tiger Woods, then Phil Mickelson would undoubtedly be even higher up this list. Mickelson picked up $10 million in prize money and $35 million in appearance and sponsorship fees.

Mickelson is something of a serial endorser, having given his name to Ford, Rolex and Callaway golf clubs amongst others. He has earned far more off the course than on it, but at least he spends his advertising bounty the right way.

In 2007, after hearing the story of retired NFL player Conrad Dobler and his family on ESPN explaining their struggles to pay medical bills, Mickelson volunteered to pay for Conrad’s daughter Holli’s college education at Miami University in Ohio.

3. Michael Jordan – Basketball – £27.5m per annum
Michael Jordan edges ahead of Mickelson on this list, despite earning roughly the same amount of money, due to the fact that he has actually retired from professional sport.

These days Jordan works as head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats, but the vast bulk of his income comes from royalties from the $800 million a year in sales of the Nike Jordan brand.

It’s no wonder then that Jordan can be so free with how he spends his money. In 2005 author Richard Esquinas claimed he had won $1.25 million from Jordan on the golf course. His interest in gambling is well known and it’s anyone’s guess as to how much money he has made or lost through his activities at http://www.worldpokertour.com/ or traditional casinos. In 2006 Jordan divorced his wife Juanita, who received a $168m settlement.

2. David Beckham – Soccer – £31m per annum
David Beckham is a global marketing phenomenon. Despite being a very good, rather than truly great soccer player, Beckham has amassed a huge fortune, due to his film star looks.

Though Beckham’s base salary with LA Galaxy was only $5.5 million, the figure was more than doubled with his cut of the team’s ticket, merchandise and sponsorship revenues. Add endorsements with Adidas, Motorola and Pepsi, to name just a few and Beckham has a huge yearly income.

Despite having recently signed a deal to spend much of his time playing on loan for AC Milan, Beckham obviously sees a future in the US, as he has recently stated that he might buy his own MLS franchise. Beckham lives in a $22 million mansion, in a gated community near to the home of Tom Cruise.

Unlike most famous sportsmen, his wife actually earns money, rather than just spending his. In 2007, Victoria was paid $20 million for the Spice Girls reunion tour. She is the 52nd richest woman in Britain.

1. Tiger Woods – Golf – £71m per annum
Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, has won 14 major golf championships and 65 PGA tour events. Ranked as the number 1 golfer in the world, Woods is thought by many to be greatest player of all time.

He’s also one of the most marketable. In 2000 he signed a 5-year $105 million contract with Nike, which at the time was the largest endorsement deal ever made by an athlete. Tiger also has deals with American Express, Buick, TAG Heuer and EA Sports, amongst many others.

Woods’ company Tiger Woods Design creates golf courses around the world. The Tiger Woods Dubai will open in September of this year and features a a 7,700-yard par-72 course, a 60,000-square-foot clubhouse, a golf academy, 320 exclusive villas and a boutique hotel with 80 suites. There are further plans afoot to open golf courses in North Carolina and Kariba in Zimbabwe, with the latter expecting to cost $608 million.

According to Golf Digest, Woods made $769,440,709 from 1996 to 2007 and that by the end of the decade he will become the first athlete to have made over a billion dollars. If LeBron James thinks he can really pip Tiger to that title, then he’d better start buying lottery tickets.

Reproduced with permission from betting.betfair.com. © The Sporting Exchange Limited

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