WHEN WELTERWEIGHT Floyd Mayweather was No. 1 on SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Fortunate 50 last year—knocking out Tiger Woods, who had been No. 1 every year since SI started producing the list in 2004—it looked like a fluke, the result of the $85 million he received for his fights with Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto. Now Mayweather is proving that he belongs at the top. From just two bouts this year, one earlier this month and the other scheduled for September, he will earn at least $90 million, and that's conservative; he could make as much as $128 million.
This is an article from the May 20, 2013 issue
There are other notable shifts this year. LeBron James (No. 2) passed Kobe Bryant (No. 4). Tiger Woods (No. 5) is back above Phil Mickelson (No. 6)—thanks to $4 million more in tour winnings. Drew Brees wasn't on last year's list but he burst into the top five thanks to a $37 million signing bonus from his new contract.
The findings consist solely of salary, winnings, bonuses and endorsements. SI consulted players' associations, tour records, online databases, agents and media reports. The endorsement estimates come from a stable of marketing executives, agents and other experts, including Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing.
Candidates for the Fortunate 50 must be U.S. citizens or play in a U.S.--based league. Endorsements reflect current deals, and salaries are based on current or most recently completed seasons; for instance, for NFL players the season that ended in February was used. (Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's new deal, which will pay him $20.1 million next season, isn't reflected.) For auto racing and tennis, prize money came from the 2012 calendar year. Golf earnings are from July 1, 2012 through April 21, 2013. Boxing purses are from August 2012 through May 2013 (but projected money from bouts through September was included since fight deals are done on a yearly basis).
1 FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. Boxer
The May 4 welterweight title bout with Robert Guerrero brought Mayweather a guaranteed purse of $32 million, with his pay-per-view cut yielding at least another $13 million. Once he gets a similar payday for his Sept. 14 fight, likely against Saul (Canelo) Alvarez, he should hit $90 million in 2013 earnings. From two matches alone Mayweather, 36, stands to make nearly as much as Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander will from his five-year, $140 million extension.
2 LEBRON JAMES Heat forward
James has bounced back from the stain of the Decision in 2010, leading Miami to the '12 NBA title and repairing his image. New deals followed, with the likes of Baskin-Robbins and Samsung. LeBron, 28, also has one of the biggest contracts with Nike and is a part owner of the Liverpool soccer club. On the court he's underpaid: The four-time MVP earns less than the Nets' Joe Johnson and the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, for example.
3 DREW BREES Saints quarterback
Brees, 34, had a relatively small base salary last season ($3 million) but landed a gargantuan $37 million signing bonus with his new contract in July 2012. He has traded on his family-man image by plugging products like Dove, Vicks VapoRub, Chase, Verizon, Tide and now Wrangler.
4 KOBE BRYANT Lakers guard
Winding down his career as LeBron hits his stride, the 34-year-old Bryant isn't losing deals, but he doesn't have many new ones coming in. While Kobe still benefits from a long contract with Nike, his other sponsors aren't huge names; they include Smart Car and Lenovo.
5 TIGER WOODS Golfer
Tiger is back—he earned more than anyone on Tour over the past 12 months—but sponsors have been slower to return. Woods's current deals are with Nike, EA, Rolex, Kowa (a heat rub), Fuse Science, Upper Deck and NetJets. In the past two years various lists have put Tiger's portfolio in the $50 million range; don't believe them. Marketing experts say that even $33 million is generous, but no one really knows how much his deal with Nike is worth. (The best estimates put it at $20 million per year.) And now that Nike is using him in TV ads again (with the ascendant Rory McIlroy), you can bet the Swoosh sees fresh value in its biggest golf star. Phil Mickelson makes more in endorsements, but the 37-year-old Woods made double on the links.
6 PHIL MICKELSON Golfer
In golf (and tennis), more than in other sports, endorsement contracts are heavily rankings-based and full of performance bonuses. At 42, Mickelson isn't winning as much, but he's still a sponsor's dream because of his likability. In an ad for arthritis medicine Enbrel (for which he likely earns $7 million a year), he's decked out in sponsorships: KPMG on his visor, Barclays on the chest of his polo, Callaway on the sleeve.
7 DERRICK ROSE Bulls guard
Rose's deal with Adidas alone is worth more than $10 million a year. Add that to Powerade, Wilson, Skullcandy, and local Chicago sponsors like Giordano's pizza, and you see why Rose, 24, has suddenly catapulted into the top 10. Even though he hasn't played a single game this season due to a torn left ACL, his jersey is the fifth-highest selling in the NBA. (Carmelo Anthony's of the Knicks is No. 1.)
8 PEYTON MANNING Broncos quarterback
Manning's salary suddenly pales in comparison with Brees's (and with the new ones signed by Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers), but he remains football's biggest endorser and one of the most marketable athletes in American sports: Reebok, Wheaties, DirecTV, Gatorade, Papa John's and Buick all see the 37-year-old QB as a sure-thing investment.
9 ALEX RODRIGUEZ Yankees third baseman
Still the highest-paid player in baseball, A-Rod's 10-year, $275 million deal goes through 2017—though it's likely the oft-injured slugger won't still be playing then. He doesn't have much left in endorsements apart from Nike, Vita Coco and Rawlings. But it's not like he needs them. Rodriguez, 37, also gets a $6 million bonus if he ever reaches 660 homers. (He has 647.)
10 ZACK GREINKE Dodgers pitcher
The Dodgers, who have the highest payroll in the majors as well as four players on this list, signed Greinke, 29, to an astonishing six-year, $147 million deal in December that includes $17 million in salary this season plus a $12 million signing bonus. It was the largest contract ever for a righthanded pitcher before the Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander deals surpassed it.
11 DWYANE WADE Heat guard
Like James, Wade agreed to a lower salary so that the Big Three could come together in Miami, but his endorsement portfolio is thriving after he left Jordan Brand last October to launch his Wade brand with Chinese label Li-Ning. (The first shoe, Way of Wade, comes out in the U.S. this year.) If the Heat wins its second straight title this year Wade, 31, will likely get even more in performance bonuses.
12 KEVIN DURANT Thunder forward
You've no doubt seen Durant and Wade having nightmares about each other in a new Gatorade ad. Durant, 24, also has deals with Sprint, Nike, Skullcandy, Degree and GE. He will have to carry more of the load for Oklahoma City with teammate Russell Westbrook out for the playoffs with a knee injury, but no matter what happens the affable Durant will continue to win big off the court.
13 JOHAN SANTANA Mets pitcher
It's difficult for pitchers, who tend to get mostly local deals, to earn as much as position players in endorsements, but thanks to his no-hitter last season—the first in the Mets' 51-year history—Santana's deals have spiked with bonuses from Rawlings and New Balance. He's also got a number of small deals in his home country of Venezuela. The 34-year-old lefthanded ace, who's out for the season after left shoulder surgery, has a $5.5 million buyout if the Mets let him go next season.
14 FELIX HERNANDEZ Mariners pitcher
When Hernandez, 27, signed his new deal in February it was the largest ever for a pitcher, but Justin Verlander's eclipsed it in March. King Felix has a bunch of small endorsement deals, but those add up: Nike, Pepsi, 2k Sports, Majestic, Fathead and Topps are among them.
15 VINCENT JACKSON Buccaneers wide receiver
It remains to be seen whether the Chargers will regret not re-signing Jackson, 30, but Tampa Bay quickly inked him to a five-year $55 million deal in March, 2012. His biggest endorsement deal is with Denny's.
16 CARMELO ANTHONY Knicks forward
For an elite player Anthony earns less than other NBA superstars off the court: His deals with Jordan Brand, Degree, Samsung and others bring him $5.8 million a year. Endorsement experts say he'd have a hard time getting much more because he doesn't seem to have the same likability as Durant, Wade or James. And yet the 28-year-old Anthony's salary is among the highest in the league (sixth this season).
17 CLIFF LEE Phillies pitcher
Lee surprised many when he passed up higher offers to return to Philadelphia in 2010, but with a salary of $25 million, don't feel bad for him. The 34-year-old lefthander has a deal with Phiten (the titanium necklace favored by many players) and with Philly-area garbage hauler J.P. Mascaro & Sons, which put Lee's face on its trucks.
18 MARIO WILLIAMS Bills defensive end
Many called Williams, 28, one of the worst investments of 2012: After Buffalo signed him to a six-year, $96 million free-agent deal, which included a $19 million signing bonus, he was criticized for lack of effort. (He had been playing with an injured wrist.) Williams has modest endorsement deals with Verizon and MuscleTech.
19 DEREK JETER Yankees shortstop
Jeter has had the same high-paying list of brands for years—Nike, Gatorade, Movado, Avon, Ford, 24 Hour Fitness—but advertising experts say the 38-year-old's earning power off the field is fading fast. His contract is up after this season, with a $9.5 million player option for 2014 and $3 million buyout.
20 JOE MAUER Twins catcher
The extension Mauer signed in 2010 was the largest ever for his position (eight years, $184 million) and he earns a lot off the diamond from endorsement deals with Nike, Rawlings, Sony, Gatorade and several companies in his home state of Minnesota.
21 CARL NICKS Buccaneers guard
Right after signing wideout Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay had enough left over to make Nicks, who had just won a Super Bowl ring with New Orleans, the highest-paid guard in the NFL. (Previously it was Logan Mankins of the Patriots.) Nicks, 27, signed a five-year contract worth nearly $47.5 million. No brands back him yet.
22 CC SABATHIA Yankees pitcher
Another high-earning Yankees veteran whose contract (through 2016, with an option for '17) is only going to get larger each year, Sabathia, 32, has an impressive stable of deals with Nike, Jordan Brand, Pepsi, Topps and Sony.
23 PRINCE FIELDER Tigers first baseman
Super-agent Scott Boras helped Fielder get a nine-year, $214 million deal from Detroit in 2012. You'd think his popularity and swagger would have earned the 29-year-old slugger more endorsement love, but for now he has only small deals with companies such as Topps and Chevy.
24 AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE Knicks forward
The six-time All Star makes slightly more in salary than his teammate Anthony (No. 20) but the 30-year-old Stoudemire doesn't have the same brand power; his endorsement deals include Nike, Sheets energy strips, Scholastic and Zico coconut water.
25 RYAN HOWARD Phillies first baseman
The 33-year-old slugger continues to be a marketable face: He has deals with Under Armour, Rawlings, Subway and ABC television. You may also have seen him playing a dopey version of himself ("professional baseball player Ryan Howard") on The Office.
26 TIM LINCECUM Giants pitcher
San Francisco's baby-faced starter has only one big endorsement deal, but it's with Red Bull, a brand increasingly shelling out for individual athletes and expensive team sponsorships. Lincecum, 28, also rocks the Phiten, as many pitchers do; from those two relationships, he's getting $1 million.
27 MATT SCHAUB Texans quarterback
Schaub, 31, had already earned $550,000 under his previous contract when he renegotiated last September for $4.4 million in salary plus a $17.5 million signing bonus. He has endorsement deals with Houston's Methodist Hospital, Nike and Verizon.
28 MARK TEIXEIRA Yankees first baseman
His eight-year, $180 million contract goes through 2016, and he has long-term endorsement deals with Nike and Rawlings, though neither pays much. Teixeira, 33, is also involved in some unique business ventures: Juice Press, in which he invests, and Wheels Up, a celebrity-athlete consulting firm he launched with the former CEO of Marquis Jet.
29 CALVIN JOHNSON Lions wide receiver
Johnson, 27, got a new deal in March 2012 that paid $21.75 million last season. The All-Pro is getting more and more visible off the field: In addition to scoring the cover of Madden NFL 13 video game, he shot a commercial for Acura and has signed endorsement deals with Nike and Eastbay.
30 MATT KEMP Dodgers outfielder
For a while Kemp, 28, was the face of the new Dodgers after signing an eight-year, $160 million deal in 2011, but no big endorsement deals followed. Notably, he is pictured, bat at the ready, on pouches of Big League Chew, as is Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels.
31 DWIGHT HOWARD Lakers center
There was the chance that Howard's off-court stock would rise after his trade from Orlando to Los Angeles last fall, but that hasn't happened. Advertising experts say that his bad attitude in recent years has hurt his marketability, which is why he has only three big-name deals: Adidas, Gatorade and Acuvue contacts.
32 VERNON WELLS Yankees outfielder
The 34-year-old Wells is trying to prove that he's not just the latest aging, overpriced Yankee. The $21 million he's making this season is a bit less than he got last season from the Angels. (By comparison, Anaheim star Mike Trout, who replaced Wells, earns $510,000.)
33 CHRIS PAUL Clippers guard
Blake Griffin may be the most marketable star on the Clippers, but his salary won't land him on this list until next year. Paul, meanwhile, has deals with Jordan Brand, Jeep, Upper Deck, and, of course, State Farm, with its popular "Cliff Paul" ad series.
34 ADRIAN GONZALEZ Dodgers first baseman
Before his trade from the Red Sox in August 2012, Gonzalez, 31, had some deals in Boston, including with Dunkin' Donuts, but in L.A. he is not yet as popular. His current deals with Nike, Rawlings, Tater Grip, State Farm, T-Mobile, Trinity Bat and Gargoyles are worth just $350,000.
35 DIRK NOWITZKI Mavericks forward
The careerlong Mav could have scored at least a few big-name sponsors after leading his team to the 2011 NBA title, but he turned down several offers (he does have one shoe deal, with Nike), saying that he has never seen himself as a brand. You gotta love a guy who, at 34, just wants to focus on basketball.
36 MIGUEL CABRERA Tigers third baseman
Even after winning the first Triple Crown in 45 seasons and the AL MVP in 2012, Cabrera, 30, hasn't been in demand off the field. Still, he is in the midst of an eight-year, $152.3 million deal he signed in '08.
37 PAU GASOL Lakers forward-center
Gasol, 32, may not immediately come to mind as an endorsement machine, and here in the U.S., he isn't, apart from a deal with Nike. But he has a great portfolio in his native Spain, including a lucrative relationship with Banco Popular.
38 JUSTIN VERLANDER Tigers pitcher
In 2015, the flamethrowing righty's salary will go up to $28 million, which will likely put him even higher on the list. Verlander, 30, has deals with Reebok and Phiten.
39 ROY HALLADAY Phillies pitcher
Halladay's ERA was as low as 2.35 in 2011, but it spiked to 4.49 last year and was 8.65 on May 6 when the 35-year-old went on the DL with soreness in his right shoulder. His biggest corporate relationship is with 2K Sports, which put him on the cover of its MLB 2K11 game.
40 MATT CAIN Giants pitcher
The 28-year-old Cain's main endorsement deals are with Mizuno, Activision and Topps. After his perfect game on June 13, 2012, Mizuno presented him with a commemorative Samurai sword. (Zach Greinke has also received a sword from the same company).
41 BARRY ZITO Giants pitcher
Zito's salary is a million more than it was last year, but this season, rotation mates Cain and Lincecum caught up to him for the first time. (Lincecum has surpassed him.) His two teammates also edge him out in endorsements; years ago Zito modeled jeans for True Religion.
42 CARL CRAWFORD Dodgers outfielder
Crawford was openly unhappy in Boston, but his first season in L.A. hasn't been full of unbridled joy either; he has had hamstring and elbow injuries and the Dodgers have struggled. On April 15, when every MLB player wore number 42 for Jackie Robinson Day, Crawford, 31, rocked special edition Jordan Brand number 42 cleats—one blue, one white.
43 JOE JOHNSON Nets swingman
The six-year, $119 million free-agent contract Johnson signed in 2010 has been criticized as overgenerous, but you have to admire his effort against the Bulls in the first round of the postseason. Playing through a left foot injury, the 31-year-old averaged 14.9 points in Brooklyn's seven-game loss.
44 COLE HAMELS Phillies pitcher
Hamels, 29, will leapfrog teammate Halladay in 2014, but for now he makes slightly less, though he has more in endorsement money from Adidas, EFX, Big League Chew and Louisville Slugger.
45 JOEY VOTTO Reds first baseman
The 2010 MVP and perennial All-Star isn't yet a national household name. But Votto, 29, is extremely popular in Reds country and last year Kroger markets unveiled VottO's cereal in Cincinnati and Dayton.
46 ALBERT PUJOLS Angels first baseman
The 10-year, $240-million contract Pujols signed in 2011 was one of the biggest in MLB history, but he's been something of a disappointment in Anaheim. In April he told the Los Angeles Times that if his performance continues to decline he won't finish out his contract. His only major endorsement deal is with Nike, but it's a big one.
47 CHRIS BOSH Heat center
He doesn't have the star power of teammates James and Wade, but he does have deals with Nike, Phiten, Foot Locker and others. More endorsements could be on the horizon for the stylish and likable 29-year-old Bosh.
48 ELI MANNING Giants quarterback
Manning is making gains on his big brother off the field, with $7 million in endorsements to Peyton's $13 million. The 32-year-old Eli has proved that he can market products with deals from Reebok, Toyota, Kraft, Samsung, DirecTV and Dunkin' Donuts, among others.
49 DALE EARNHARDT JR. NASCAR driver
Junior's endorsements are impressive for NASCAR, where the sponsorship dollars are drying up due to waning interest. Earnhardt, 38, wasn't even among the top 10 in winnings in 2012, but his off-track earnings are still the highest in the sport, thanks to deals with Diet Mountain Dew, Chevrolet, TaxSlayer.com, Nationwide Insurance, National Guard and Hellmann's.
50 ALFONSO SORIANO Cubs outfielder
Soriano, 37, who edged out Nets guard Deron Williams for the final slot, will earn $18 million again in 2014. He's got small endorsement deals with Under Armour and Wilson.
Daniel Roberts is a writer-reporter for FORTUNE.
To see how the earnings of international stars such as Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova compare, go to SI.com/mag.