NEW YORK – Galvanized by an unprecedented deal with Showtime that guarantees him at least $32 million per fight, boxing great Floyd (Money) Mayweather Jr. sits atop the 10th annual Sports Illustrated Fortunate 50, which ranks the 50 highest-earning professional athletes in the U.S. With $90 million in projected earnings for 2013, Mayweather tops the list for the second consecutive year. The complete list is available at si.com/Fortunate50 and is also featured in the May 20, 2013 edition of SI.
Tiger Woods, who was No. 1 on the Fortunate 50 every year from 2004-11, falls to his lowest ranking ever (No. 5, $40.8MM). LeBron James (No. 2, $56.5MM) is the first team-sport player to crack the top two since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 2004. James’s $39 million in endorsements were more than any other U.S. athlete in 2013. A historic $37 million signing bonus helped Drew Brees skyrocket to No. 3 on this year’s list. Brees didn’t crack the top 50 in 2012.
The 2013 Fortunate 50 was compiled by Sports Illustrated special contributor Daniel Roberts, a writer-reporter for Fortune Magazine. The list consists solely of salary, winnings, bonuses and endorsements. Roberts consulted with players’ associations, tour records, online databases, agents and reports. Endorsement estimates came from a stable of marketing executives, agents, and other experts, including Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing.
For team sports, salaries are based on current or most recent seasons. NFL rankings are based on the season that ended in February. (Joe Flacco’s new deal, where he is set to earn $20.1 million next season, isn’t reflected.) The 2012 calendar year was used for auto racing and tennis. Golf earnings are from July 1, 2012 through April 21, 2013 (the RBC Heritage). Boxing purses are from August 2012 through May 2013, but include projected money from fights through September. Candidates for the Fortunate 50 must be U.S. citizens or play in a U.S.-based league.
Mayweather sat down with executive editor Jon Wertheim for a Q&A, featured in this week’s SI, before his victory over Robert Guerrero on May 4. He says, “Surround yourself with the right team. It takes brains to make the money.” When asked how his time in prison affected his view about money, Mayweather adds: “I got offers and huge deals when I was locked up, with CEOs writing me, wanting to do business with me, Fortune 500 companies wanting to do business with me. But my main focus was just coming home and being free. You can have all the money in the world, but if you’re not free, it’s like being poor, because you can’t do anything.”
The 2013 list features 25 baseball players, 13 basketball players, eight football players, two golfers, one boxer and one NASCAR driver. No female athletes were ranked in the U.S. list for the fifth consecutive year. There are 17 athletes on the 2013 list that were not there in 2012, including Johan Santana (No. 13, $26.3MM), Dirk Nowitzki (No. 35, $21.3MM) and Miguel Cabrera (No. 36, $21.2MM), who joined the list due to a tweak in the rules that puts anyone on an American sports team on the Fortunate 50, whether or not they’re a U.S. citizen. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 49), Derek Jeter (No. 19) and Larry Fitzgerald (unranked) dropped out of the top 10 from last year.
The New York Yankees topped team sports with five representatives on the list. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies came next with four players each, followed by the Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, Miami Heat and LA Lakers with three. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only NFL team to have more than one player on the list (Vincent Jackson, No. 15 and Carl Nicks, No. 21).
Soccer star David Beckham ($48.3MM) tops the SI International 20, which ranks the 20 highest-earning international athletes. Beckham unseats tennis champ Roger Federer (No. 2, $43.4MM), who ranked No. 1 the previous three years. Tennis star Maria Sharapova (No.9, $25.5MM) is the top-ranked female to crack either list. Fellow tennis player Li Na (No. 17, $17.3MM) is the only other ranked female.