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Do Athletes Lack Firepower In Marketing, Endorsements . . . Popularity?

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

LeBron JamesMay 18, 2011: Lady Gaga may be the "World’s Most Powerful Celebrity" based on Forbes Magazine's 2011 Celebrity 100 list, but Tiger Woods, despite all of his on- and off-the course challenges, remains the most powerful sports figure, according to the magazine.

What that says about the power of athletes as marketing and endorsement stars, and their popularity among fans and consumers, is open to interpretation.

There are two athletes in the top ten — Woods at No. 6 and LeBron James of the Miami Heat at No. 10. However, in the world of celebrity versus sports power, there were only 19 athletes among the top 100.

And the top female athlete on the list, Maria Sharapova, doesn't even turn up until No. 80.

Lady Gaga replaced Oprah Winfrey, who held the top spot four times. According to Forbes, "Lady Gaga tops our power list not just because of her $90 million in earnings, but also because of her 32 million Facebook fans and 10 million Twitter followers, who helped move 1 million copies of her hit single, “Born This Way,” in just five days."

The earnings power of The Celebrity 100 dropped slightly in 2011, with this year’s stars having earned a collective $4.5 billion during the past year, down from $4.7 billion in 2010, per Forbes.

This list is based on five factors: Money Rank, TV/Radio Rank, Press Rank, Web Rank and Social Rank. It does not break down income by salary, winnings and endorsements.

Forbes said the 19 athletes on the list this year earned a combined $647 million.

Of the 19, two are from golf, five are from tennis, two from the NFL, four from the NBA,  only Danica Patrick from auto racing, three from soccer and two from MLB, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, both members of the New York Yankees.

Woods' total income was put at $75 million by Forbes. About $60 million of that last year was from endorsements, accordin to industy analysts, which also puts him atop all athletes. However, his marketing power has dropped significantly since November 2009 following his one-car accident and ensuring personal problems.

Woods has lost about $40 million in annual endorsements since then. He has not won a golf tournament since 2009.

James earns about $35 million from endorsements, tops among all NBA players.

Danica Patrick, the only race driver on Forbes' Top 100 list.There are just nine athletes in Forbes' top 50 — with Kobe Bryant at No. 14, Roger Federer at No. 25, David Beckham and Phil Mickelson tied at No. 35, Ronaldo at No. 43, Rafael Nadal at No. 46 and Alex Rodriguez at No. 49.

James' teammate, Dwyane Wade, comes in at No. 57. The Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard is in at No. 59.

Tom Brady at No. 55 beats out his wife, model Gisele Bündchen at No. 60.

Also among athletes on the list: Lionel Messi at No. 62, Derek Jeter No. 69, Peyton Manning No. 72, Sharapova No. 80, Serena Williams No. 84, Venus Williams No. 86 and Danica Patrick at No. 96.

There were no male race drivers on the list despite the success and popularity of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others from Nascar.

Among those from sports who fell completely out of the top 100 list of 2010 are Michael Jordan (No. 20 in 2010), Floyd Mayweather (No. 31), Shaquille O'Neal (No. 52), Manny Pacquiao No. 55) and Lance Armstrong (No. 65).

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