Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Thursday, July 02, 2009
The Fortunate 50
Jonah Freedman of Sports Illustrated has compiled his annual list of the top 50 earning U.S. athletes, taking into account salary, winnings, and endorsements. Always a fun read. Some interesting points:
* Tiger Woods, not surprisingly, ranks first, earning just under $100 million ($92 million of which is from endorsements), followed by fellow golfer Phil Mickelson.
* Lebron James ranks third, earning $42 million. Will his endorsement income--which is already $28 million a year--go up should he leave Cleveland next summer for the Knicks?
* Three of the top 10 earning atheltes are NBA players who jumped directly from high school to the NBA (Lebron, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant), while four other prep-to-pro stars are also in the top 32 (Dwight Howard is #13, Jermaine O'Neal is #20, Rashard Lewis is #30, and Amare Stoudemire is #32). Allen Iverson, who was my more celebrated classmate at Georgetown University for two years, and Shaquille O'Neal, who played three years at LSU, are also NBA players in the top 10.
* Tom Brady, despite his enormous celebrity, is only #28 on the list, earning $18 million a year between salary and endorsements. For what it's worth, his wife--super model Gisele Bundchen--is reportedly worth $150 million.
* The Manning Brothers are both in the top 50: Peyton is #10 while Eli is #43.
A sports law related point: While player-agents, who in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL are regulated by the respective players' association, typically receive a small commission percentage of a player's contract with a team (depending on the players' association in question, the agent usually receives a 2 to 4% commission), their cut of an endorsement contract tends to be higher (in the ballpark of 10 to 20%). As a result, the difference between income from a player contract and income from an endorsement contract matters a great deal to an agent. It also means that agents who represent endorsement-attracting players tend to see their earnings go up considerably.