Is the slumping economy hitting America's premier athletes? Yes and no. The average haul of the top-earning U.S. athletes in SI's annual Fortunate 50 (based on salary, winnings, endorsements and appearances) has fallen to $23.6 million, down from $25.1 million last year. It's the first decrease in the six years that SI has compiled the list. Most of that is due to reduced earnings of perennial runaway Nos. 1 and 2, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, both of whom have recently lost key auto-manufacturer endorsement deals (not to mention Tiger's multimillion-dollar decline in on-course earnings and appearance fees during his eight months off following knee surgery).
Otherwise, the richest of the rich are humming along as usual. A record nine NBA players earned in excess of $20 million in salary this past season, and the New York Yankees have continued to spend into the stratosphere, giving new acquisitions CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett their Fortunate 50 debuts. Even in tough economic times, being at the top of one's game seems recession-proof.
|RANK||NAME||TOTAL INCOME||SALARY/WINNINGS||ENDORSEMENTS||2008 TOTAL (RANK)|
|1.||Tiger Woods||99.7||7.7||92||127.9 (1)|
|2.||Phil Mickelson||53.0||6.4||46.6||62.4 (2)|
|3.||LeBron James||42.4||14.4||28||40.4 (3)|
|4.||Alex Rodriguez||39||33||6||35 (T-6)|
|5.||Shaquille O'Neal||35||20||15||35 (T-6)|
|6.||Kevin Garnett||34.8||24.8||10||31 (8)|
|7.||Kobe Bryant||31.3||21.3||10||35.5 (5)|
|8.||Allen Iverson||29||22||7||27.1 (12)|
|9.||Derek Jeter||28.5||20||8.5||30 (10)|
|10.||Peyton Manning||27||14||13||30.5 (9)|
July 5, 2009
*All figures in millions of dollars
See the entire Fortunate 50 list at SI.com/fortunate50