By Barry Janoff
June 11, 2015: Floyd Mayweather this year not only retained his WBA and WBC titles and won the WBO Welterweight title with a unanimous decision against Manny Pacquiao, he also retained his financial title as the world's highest paid athlete.
Mayweather's $300 million income is not only more than double the next athlete on the list, Pacquiao, it also is unique because the vast majority of it is from winnings and income related directly to his fights, with a relatively minimal $15 million coming from product endorsements.
Mayweather and Pacquiao— whose May fight brought them $400 million (and counting) from tickets, PPV and other sources — are the only two boxers among the Top 50 highest paid athletes. But their combined $460 million income from winnings and endorsements is more than the combined total income of then next seven athletes on the list, according to the just released World's Highest-Paid Athletes from Forbes, written by Kurt Badenhausen.
This is the second consecutive year and third in the last four that Mayweather has topped the list. Pacquiao was No. 23 last year.
Like a growing number of pro athletes, Mayweather enjoys a revenue stream from his own company, The Money Team, and from Mayweather Promotions.
By comparison, there are just two women among the Top 100: Maria Sharpova at No. 26, who earned $7 million in tennis winnings and $23 million from endorsements (including Nike, Evian, Avon, Tag Heuer, and Samsung, but not counting income from her own SugarPova line of candies); and Serena Williams at No. 47, who totaled $11.6 million from tennis winnings and $13 million in endorsements (including Nike, Pepsi and JP Morgan, but not from alliances such as Mission AthleteCare and the Miami Dolphins, in which she is an investor, and income from her own companies).
The next two players on the list are from soccer: Cristiano Ronaldo ($52.6M salary, $27 million endorsements including Nike, Tag Heuer, Herbalife and PokerStars), and Lionel Messi ($52 million salary, $22 million endorsements including adidas, Samsung, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and Turkish Airlines).
Roger Federer leads all tennis players at No. 5 ($10 million winnings, $56 million endorsements including Nike, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Lindt, Credit Suisse, Moët & Chandon and NetJets).
Two players lead the NBA: LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 6 ($21 million salary, $44 million in endorsements, including Nike, Beats by Dre, Kia, Coca-Cola-Sprite and Upper Deck); and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder ($19 million salary, $35 million endorsements, including Nike — which in 2014 signed Durant to a ten-year deal valued at upward of $300 million, including royalties — Sonic, Sprint, BBVA Compass, Sparking Ice and Panini).
Phil Mickelson, at No. 8, is the top golfer on the list for the first time in several years, which his $2.8 million winnings and $48 million in endorsements (including KMPG, Rolex, ExxonMobil and Barclays) surpassing Tiger Woods, who earned less than $1 million winnings and $50 million endorsements‚ a far cry from a total that at one time had been upward of $120 million (including Nike Golf, MusclePharm, Kowa, Rolex and Upper Deck).
The NBA's Kobe Bryant fills out the Top Ten, with the Los Angeles Lakers veteran taking in $23.5 million in salary and some $26 million endorsements (including Nike, Lenovo, Hublot and Panini ).
Of the top 50, 11 are from the NBA, nine are from soccer, nine from MLB, six from the NFL, five from tennis, four from auto racing, three from golf, two from boxing and one from cricket.
MLB leads the Top 100 with 27 players, followed by the NBA (18), NFL (16) and soccer (15).
The only athlete from Track & Field is Usain Bolt at No. 73. There are no players from the NHL among the Top 100, according to Forbes.
Peyton Manning comes in at No. 32 overall, but remains No. 1 in endorsements among NFL players at $12 million (including DirecTV, Gatorade, Nike, Nationwide, Buick and Papa John's, for which he also is a franchise owner in Denver).
After the Top Ten, the Top 25 includes (in order) are: Ben Roethlisberger, Rory McIlroy, Novak Djokovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lewis Hamilton, Ndamukong Suh, Fernando Alonso, Gareth Bale, John Lester, Derrick Rose, Sebastian Vettel, Rafael Nadal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Neymar and Carmelo Anthony.
See the full Forbes list here.
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