Change was the general theme at the top of the list as Mayweather was followed by the NBA’s Lebron James (who supplanted fellow NBA star, Kobe Bryant), the NFL’s Drew Brees on the strength of his $37 million signing bonus, and Tiger Woods’ return to the Top 5 after taking back the PGA’s mantle from Phil Mickelson.
To compile the numbers, the athletes' current-season salaries, bonuses, and endorsements were tallied and the multi-sport list took shape.
While Mayweather was the lone boxer among the Fortunate 50 and Woods (5th) and Mickelson (6th) were the only golfers, Major League Baseball players formed the largest contingent with 25 of the game’s best (or at least highest earning) making the cut.
The NBA contributed 13 players and the NFL had eight named. Dale Earnhardt Jr., fueled by a mountain of endorsement deals, avoided falling completely out of the Top 50 to be NASCAR’s sole representative.
An interesting scan through the slideshow reveals the impact of endorsement deals as many of the athletes logged eight-figure additions to their already sizable salaries. Lebron James, for example, more than doubled his $17 million salary with $39 million from Nike, Samsung, Baskin-Robbins, and others. Mayweather’s total, on the other hand, included no endorsement money.
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