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Published 19 June 2012 06:28, Updated 20 June 2012 06:35
The world’s highest-paid athlete Floyd Mayweather Jr celebrates after defeating Miguel Cotto during their WBA super welterweight title fight in May. Mayweather picked up a $US45 million pay packet for the bout. Photo: Ethan Miller
Tiger Woods has been knocked off the top rung of Forbes’ list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes for the first time since 2001, with boxing champ Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather landing the knockout blow.
Adding insult to injury, the one time golf star didn’t even make the number two spot, which was taken out by pay-per-view boxing star Many Pacquiao. Instead, Woods came in at third after he was stung by the loss of endorsement deals with Gillette and Tag Heuer.
Endorsements continue to make up the bulk of the big pay packets pulled in by the world’s top sports people, except in the case of No. 1 and No. 2 ranked Mayweather and Pacquaio, who pull much of their income from fight fees and winnings.
Fat pay days for Mayweather in the form $US40 million and $US45 million pay cheques for duking it out with Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto respectively helped secure his spot at the top of Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes.
Mayweather handles his own promotions, helping to maximise the amount he takes home from bouts.
Pacquiao took home total earnings of $US62 million, with $US56 million of that coming from salary and winnings and the remainder from endorsements, which include sports equipment maker Nike and info-tech outfit Hewlett-Packard.
Woods rounded out the top three with total earnings of $US59.4 million – roughly half what he took home when his earnings peaked in 2009 – with $US4.4 million of his pay packet coming from salary and winnings and $US55 million from endorsements.
“Despite his collapse in this year’s US Open, Woods is playing much better on the course and his prize money doubled from the prior 12 months. But the $US2 million bump in prize money does not offset the loss of sponsors like Tag Heuer and Gillette,” Forbes writes.
“Woods’ golf course design business has also struggled. Development of his Dubai course was shut down last year and the developer of his North Carolina course, Cliffs Club & Hospitality, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.”
Rounding out the top 5 highest-paid athletes for the past 12 months are basketballer LeBron James, with total earnings of $US53 million ($US13 million in salary and winnings and $US40 million in endorsements) and tennis ace Roger Federer with total earnings of $US52.7 million ($US7.7 million of in salary and winnings and $US45 million in endorsements).
According to Forbes, 30 US football players ranked among the world’s highest-paid athletes in the past year, while 13 basketball players featured in the list. In all, 11 different sports are represented, including cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni (No. 31) and Sachin Tendulkar (No. 78).
Both women who made the top 100 are tennis players, with Maria Sharapova coming in at No. 26 with earnings of $US27.9 million and Li Na taking out the No. 81 spot with earnings of $US18.4 million.
The world’s 100 highest-paid athletes took home a combined $US2.6 billion in the past year, Forbes says.