Among the top 10 highest paid athletes in the world over the last 12 months, three are soccer players (Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham), two are in the NFL (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees), two play golf (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson), two are NBA players (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant) and only Roger Federer represents tennis.
There was a theme or return to normal in 2013 so far, with Floyd Mayweather not breaking the bank at the moment, or at least PPV records since signing with Showtime, while Tiger Woods is winning tournaments again, helping him rise in the money lists once more, although his endorsements money is equal to that of Roger Federer, who hasn’t been exactly very successful on the court lately.
Lionel Messi – $41.3 Million
Just under half ($20.3 million) of Messi’s earnings over the last 12 months have come from his salary with Barcelona. He reached a record 91 calendar goals at the end of 2012 to mark an incredible individual year, resulting in yet another Ballon d’Or award for best player in the world. He finished 2012-2013 with another La Liga title and finishing on top of the scoring charts in the league with 46 goals. Adidas launched his own Icon signature line, becoming only the second player (after David Beckham) to receiver that kind of treatment.
Cristiano Ronaldo – $44 Million
Ronaldo seems to finish behind Messi in almost everything – Ballon d’Or votes; La Liga title races; Pichichi (top scorer in Spain) races. But at least he makes more money than him, thanks to a $23 million salary he reportedly isn’t too pleased with, wanting more to come his way or he’ll leave Real Madrid. The big issue is image rights, wanting more than the 60-40 (in his favor) split they have going on at the moment.
David Beckham – $47.2 Million
Only $5.2 million out of his earnings over the last 12 months came from a salary, and he donated that as well. He joined PSG on a five-month stint which clinched him another league title just before announcing his retirement, ending a 21-year career on the soccer pitch. Thanks to sponsors like Adidas, Coty, H&M, Sainsbury’s, Samsung and his newest partner, Breitling, Beckham didn’t have to worry about the money he got from the club. He’ll be busy after retiring as well, signing a multi-year deal to become an ambassador for the Chinese Super League and thinking about purchasing an MLS club.
Phil Mickelson – $48.7 Million
You can be a Golf star without really winning tournaments, as Mickelson has only one tour victory over the last 12 months (the Waste Management Phoenix Open four months ago), making $44 million off endorsements, including Callaway, Barclay’s, KPMG, Exxon, Rolex and Amgen/Pfizer.
Aaron Rodgers – $49 Million
When signing the biggest contract in NFL history ($110 million, five years), Aaron Rodgers also got a $35 million signing bonus and $62.5 million in the first three years of the deal. From endorsements, mostly Nike and the State Farm insurance commercials, Rodgers banked in a further $6 million last year.
Drew Brees – $51 Million
Brees enjoyed a $37 million signing bonus when he signed his $100 million, five year deal with the New Orleans Saints 11 months ago. It didn’t lead to the best of seasons, with the pay-to-injure scandal causing too much damage for one brilliant quarterback to overcome. From his sponsors, including, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Verizon Wireless, PepsiCo and Wrangler, Brees made an estimated $11 million last season.
LeBron James – $59.8 Million
James isn’t even one of the top 10 players in the NBA ($17.8 million) but his next contract might be a huge one. In any case, he makes over $42 million from endorsements which are Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Samsung among others. He clinched his first NBA title and just reached his third consecutive NBA finals with the Miami Heat, which will probably help his shoe brand with Nike, which sold at around $300 million last season, become even bigger, outselling the competition by a 6-to-1 margin in the U.S.
Kobe Bryant – $61.9 Million
Bryant enjoys the highest salary in the NBA ($27.9 million) which will cross the $30 million mark next season, regardless if he’s healthy or not, becoming only the second player in NBA history with that kind of salary (Jordan, of course, was the first). He made $34 million from endorsements including Nike, Coca-Cola, Turkish Airlines, Lenovo, Panini, Hublot and Mercedes-Benz, while his jersey is the most popular outside the USA.
Roger Federer – $71.5 Million
Federer hasn’t won a single tournament in 2013 so far, but his pretty big 2012 (which included winning Wimbledon) and still being the most popular tennis player by far, probably in history, helps him get so high on this list, making $65 million off the court with sponsors like Nike, Rolex, Wilson and Credit Suisse, and his exhibition tour deals of South America that netted him $14 million for six events.
Tiger Woods – $78.1 Million
Things are back to normal for Woods, winning six tournaments over the last 12 months, earning him $13.1 million in prize money. He collected over $10 million in appearance fees from stops in Abu Dhabi, China, Malaysia and Turkey; his golf-course planning business has also picked up, while his deals with Nike and Rolex earned him $65 million in endorsements.