July 21, 2010: Even with the headline-grabbing, tabloid-driven situation regarding his off-course personal life, Tiger Woods remains the favorite male athlete among U.S. sports fans and the highest paid sports endorser in America.
A new poll from Harris Interactive lists Woods as "America's favorite male sports star," a position he has held in the survey since 2006. One difference this year: He has been tied for the top position by Kobe Bryant, who was ranked No, 4 in the last two Harris surveys.
Bryant's rise to the top here is credited to his leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their second consecutive NBA titles. He also has a solid marketing resume, including deals with Nike, 2K Sports, Coca-Cola-owned Vitaminwater and Panini.
Woods also remained atop the "Fortunate 50" list of leading American athlete endorsers as compiled by Sports Illustrated. He lost some $20 million in deals that ended with Accenture, AT&T and PepsiCo's Gatorade when details of his personal life become public following his Thanksgiving Day one-car accident. But Woods is expected to pull in $70 million from marketing deals that include Nike, EA Sports, Gillette, Upper Deck, Tag Heuer and NetJets.
Fellow golfer Phil Mickelson was not ranked among the top ten favorite male athletes in the Harris Poll, but he remained second to Woods among all athletes with $52 million in endorsements deals. He has alliances with such companies as ExxonMobil, Barclays, Rolex, KMPG and Callaway.
Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees was third on the Harris Poll of favorite U.S. athletes and tops among MLB players on the list in terms of endorsement deals at $10 million, according to Sports Illustrated. Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals was second with $8 million, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox third at $4.5 million, Jeter's teammate Alex Rodriguez fourth among MLB players at $4 million.
Each of them earns less than quarterback Peyton Manning, who tops all NFL players with $15 million in endorsement deals that include MasterCard, Nabisco, General Mills' Wheaties and Sony.
The new 'three amigos" on the NBA's Miami Heat not only command attention on the court, they get paid an attention-getting amount from endorsements. LeBron James will take in $30 million in marketing deals and Dwyane Wade about $12 million, per Sports Illustrated; and Chris Bosh, who did not make the Fortunate 50 list, makes about $3-$4 million, per industry analysts. Bosh is expected to benefit the most from endorsement deals via his new exposure in Miami, having spent the previous seven seasons with the Toronto Raptors. Only James made the Harris Poll top ten most popular male athletes, but the survey was conducted in June, prior to his leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign as free agent with Miami.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the only Nascar driver on the Harris Poll top ten list of most popular male athletes, and he also led Nascar drivers in endorsements with $22 million, according to Sports Illustrated. Other drivers who do well in marketing deals are Jeff Gordon ( $15 million) and Jimmie Johnson ($10 million).
There were no female athletes listed among Sports Illustrated's Fortunate 50 because the list combines salary/winnings with endorsements to list players. Breaking them out based solely on endorsements, such tennis stars as Venus Williams and Serena Williams, race car driver Danica Patrick and golfer Michelle Wie would compare favorably with their male counterparts as they each take in more than $10 million annually from marketing deals, according to industry analysts. Foreign-born players were ranked in a separate Sports Illustrated Fortunate 50, and that list was led by Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, David Beckham. Ronaldo, Manny Pacquiao, Ichiro Suzuki, Valentino Rossi, Yao Ming, Rafael Nadal and Lewis Hamilton.
The Harris Poll was conducted online in the U.S. June 14-21, 2010, among 2,227 adults (aged 18 and over).
Top Ten Most Popular Male Athletes (Age)
Tiger Woods 34
Kobe Bryant 31
Derek Jeter 36
Brett Favre 40
Peyton Manning 34
LeBron James 25
Michael Jordan 47 retired 2003
Tom Brady 32
Drew Brees 31
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 35
Ten Most Popular Female Athletes (Age)
Serena Williams 28
Venus Williams 30
Danica Patrick 28
Mia Hamm 38 retired 2004
Maria Sharapova 23
Anna Kournikova 29
Misty May-Treanor 32
Shawn Johnson 18
Lisa Leslie 38 retired 2009
Source: Harris Interactive
Harris Poll Rankings Male Atheltes 2003-2010
Harris Poll Rankings Female Athletes 2004-2010