Forbes Magazine recently released a list of the World’s Highest Paid Athletes. Looks like Tiger Woods has returned to his lofty perch at the top of the list of highly paid athletes. Since his high profile divorce in 2010, Tiger Woods has committed himself to regaining the golfing form that took him to the top of the money earning list in years prior to the divorce and Forbes has confirmed his ascension.
Tiger married Elin Nordegren, a Swedish model, in 2004. They had two children, a son and a daughter, and had a high profile incident in which Tiger was involved in a single vehicle accident that followed a domestic dispute between the couple. They divorced in 2010 and Elin settled for $100 million.
The high profile divorce and his subsequent admission to being a sex addict caused Tiger to lose most of his major endorsements and the attending distractions caused his golf game to suffer. However, Tiger seems to have regained his championship form and he has returned to the top of the earnings chart. Tiger’s earnings are estimated to be $78 million annually with approximately $13 million in competition earnings and $65 million in endorsements.
Following Tiger on the earnings list is tennis star Roger Federer earning approximately $71 million of which $65 million is in endorsements. Federer is followed on the list by basketball stars Kobe Bryant ($62 million) and LeBron James ($60 million). The number 5 and 6 slots belong to professional football stars Drew Brees ($51 million) and Aaron Rogers ($49 million).
Golfer Phil Mickelson claims the number seven slot at $48 million. The top ten is rounded out by professional soccer players, David Beckham ($47 million), Cristiano Ronaldo ($44 million) and Lionel Messi ($41 million). Incidentally, Alex Rodriguez or A-Rod as he is known to his fans is the highest paid professional baseball player in the world and ranks 18th on the list at approximately $30 million annually.
Athletes at this level command fan and media attention because of their enormous “star power” and celebrity status. Perhaps this is also the reason that when athletes fall from grace it is so dramatic especially with the media. Huge endorsement contracts result in billions of dollars in the sale of merchandise such as sneakers and apparel so the annual earnings of athletes represents only a part of the story.
All athletes should take note of the fact that along with the high incomes there is a responsibility to act with professionalism and character in order to maintain the extraordinary levels of income they enjoy. Fans and media alike are watching and will be applauding or booing depending on how the athletes carry their high income, celebrity status. No matter how you look at it sport, celebrity and money are still a very important part of the human psyche. But athletes must be held to a higher level of responsibility because of their income and their celebrity.