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Friday, July 28, 2006
Top 50 Earning Athletes in the United States

Jonah Freedman of Sports Illustrated has compiled a list of the top 50-earning athletes in the United States. Not surprisingly, Tiger Woods leads the way, although the size of his most recent annual earnings may startle you: $97.6 million, or twice as much as what the #2 person on the list, Phil Mickelson, earned in the last year ($46.0 million). These figures include winnings, salaries, endorsements, and appearance fees. In his career, Woods has earned over a half-billion dollars; he could earn well over a billion dollars by the time he retires from golf.

Here are the top earning players from each league/sport, and their most recent annual earnings figure (salary, endorsements, and appearance fees):
  • PGA: Tiger Woods, $97.6 million
  • NBA: Shaquille O'Neal, $34.0 million
  • NFL: Carson Palmer, $31.6 million
  • MLB: Derek Jeter, $28.0 million
  • NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., $25.8 million
  • Tennis: Andre Aggasi, $24.6 million
  • NHL: no NHL player is on the list
Does David Dunn, Carson Palmer's agent, deserve an award or what? No offense to Palmer, an excellent quarterback for the Bengals, but does he really deserve to be the highest-earning NFL player? What about Tom Brady or, I suppose, Payton Manning? But Dunn negotiated a 9-year, $119-million extension for his client, and that deal included $24 million in up-front bonus money.


Looks like you want to be good at something a lot of schlubs by equipment for, so you can endorse it.

Blogger Zen Wizard -- 7/29/2006 1:04 PM  

Best but not free,down here in africa how can we get things like that?

Blogger mike ayapaye -- 7/29/2006 1:48 PM  

Best but not free,down here in africa how can we get things like that?

Blogger mike ayapaye -- 7/29/2006 1:50 PM  

don't worry, Palmer won't be the top earning player next year because he won't have the guaranteed signing bonus. and, Palmer's agent does get a reward a 4% cut or so of that amount.

Blogger The Fan's Attic -- 7/29/2006 2:07 PM  

I wasn't surprised by the list. The saddest thing is the $87,000,000 that Woods receives just in endorsements.

I'm sure Tiger Woods helps NIKE sell a few golf clubs and clothes, but I can't imagine his spots for American Express or Buick help their respective business that much.

I'd also be curious if the combination of Budweiser, Chevrolet, NAPA and various other products get their moneys' worth from Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Blogger RWA -- 7/29/2006 4:30 PM  

Lots of good comments here. Personally, I think that Palmer's contract is just another example of how those who run the Cincinnati Bengals on a daily operational basis have absolutely no clue about how to run a football team. Need more proof? Check the headlines lately on the Bengals' rap sheets.

Also, I think that Tiger's endorsements probably do make a good deal of money off of him. Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Well, A-B posted a loss last quarter, so you have to wonder.

Blogger Mark -- 7/30/2006 12:49 PM  

At least some of these numbers are suspect. A-Rod, for one, banked at least $25M in salary in 2005 ($27M reduced by deferred payments, plus $1M MVP bonus), which would bump him up past LeBron and possibly Palmer.

Anonymous Ned -- 7/30/2006 5:41 PM  

The fact that Palmer has the largest contract in football is more a reflection of when his contract was signed. Palmer signed a new contract in December, 2005 (right before his knee injury; at the time I was wearing my favorite Christmas present: a Palmer jersey from an aunt. Devastation.). As "The Fan's Attic" noted, part of the reason for Palmer leading the NFL list is that Palmer's signing bonus is counted towards his salary this year. That would not be the case in any other year (i.e., next year). The other part of the reason is that Palmer was the most recent "Big Time" QB to sign a contract. The next Big Time QB to sign a new contract (or extension) will/should sign a larger contract.

Anonymous David -- 7/31/2006 4:49 PM  

i cannot believe how big nascar is getting.....or maybe it has been big all along and i just haven't been paying attention.

Blogger AP -- 8/02/2006 2:13 PM  

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