Most people know that the National Football League (NFL) is the most popular sport on TV, but it may raise a few eyebrows to hear that the second highest-rated sport is NASCAR --the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. No longer just a heartland sport, NASCAR is broadcast in over 150 countries. With all this television coverage come the big money and high annual salaries. Unlike NFL salaries, however, NASCAR drivers salaries are closely-guarded secrets.
That said, we do have some info on NASCAR drivers salaries, thanks to SportsIllustrated.cnn.com. SI says the highest-paid driver in 2005 was Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose annual salary and earnings totaled $5,761,830, but that's not all. His endorsements earned $20,000,000, bringing his sub-total compensation to $25,761,830. That number doesn't include sales of Dale Earnhardt Jr. merchandise and earnings from the racing company that he owns. SI says his total take in '05 would approach $50 million!
The second $25 million is really for his role as a business owner, not directly for Dale Jr.'s work as a race car driver. While there are substantial risks to racing (Dale Sr. died on the race track), the pay is still impressive.
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