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Updated: 06 March 2013 16:30 | By Ian Harrison
Show me the money: Highest-paid athletes

Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time



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Beyond the games they're famous for, the world's best athletes also compete in a different kind of competition: the sport of securing the biggest salary. There's no trophy involved, just a whole lot of zeroes on the end of every paycheque. And the stars who shine at the top of the money game all earn their eight figure annual incomes in different ways. Here's a look at 10 athletes who are among the biggest earners in sports.

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Show me the money: Highest-paid athletesTen athletes who are among the biggest earners of all timeTen athletes who are among the biggest earners of all timeIan Harrison2013-03-06T16:30:002013-03-06T16:30:00channelsportTen athletes who are among the biggest earners of all timeBeyond the games they're famous for, the world's best athletes also compete in a different kind of competition: the sport of securing the biggest salary. There's no trophy involved, just a whole lot of zeroes on the end of every paycheque. And the stars who shine at the top of the money game all earn their eight figure annual incomes in different ways. Here's a look at 10 athletes who are among the biggest earners in sports.topTen athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Ten athletes who are among the biggest earners of all time(©Getty Images)Joe FlaccoHe's fresh off an MVP performance in the Super Bowl and he's cashing in, big time. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco just became the highest paid player in the NFL ever, signing a six-year contract worth $120.6 million. The only QB in league history to reach the playoffs in each of his first five seasons, Flacco's annual average salary of $20.1 million puts him $100,000 ahead of fellow quarterback Drew Brees, who signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the New Orleans Saints last summer.topJoe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joe Flacco(©Getty Images)Joey VottoCanadian baseball slugger Joey Votto is the fortunate owner of the fourth biggest contract in sports history, a 10-year, $225 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. The GTA-raised star doesn't actually start his monster contract until 2014, because he still has one year and $17 million owing on his current agreement. The former National League MVP will earn a healthy $25 million per season in the final six years of his colossal contract, the biggest ever for a Canadian athlete.topJoey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Joey Votto(©Getty Images)Alex OvechkinWashington Capital sniper Alex Ovechkin didn't need an agent to negotiate the richest contract in hockey history. He and his parents simply sat down with Caps owner Ted Leonsis and team GM George McPhee to hammer out the NHL's first $100-plus million deal. Alexander the Great, who put pen to paper on his 13-year, $124 million extension in January 2008, has topped up his savings through endorsement deals with CCM, Nike and Gatorade that pay him an extra $2.5 million per year.topAlex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Alex Ovechkin(©Getty Images)Tiger WoodsWhen it comes to endorsements, nobody tops Tiger. Golfer Tiger Woods lost some of his marketing lustre after he was exposed as a serial cheater and split with wife Elin, losing sponsorships with Gilette and Tag Heuer. But the 14-time major winner still pulls in an eye-popping $55 million per year thanks to deals with Rolex, video game maker EA Sports and, of course, Nike, who made Woods the focal point of their golf division. After struggling badly in the wake of his personal troubles, Woods has finally got his golf game back on track, too. Tiger snapped a 30-month winless streak and claimed three tournament titles in 2012, taking home more than $6 million in prize money.topTiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Tiger Woods(©Getty)Lionel MessiThe biggest salary in soccer belongs to brilliant Barcelona star Lionel Messi, whose recent contract extension with the Catalan club raised his annual average salary to $21.2 million per season. The Argentinian striker is also a well-marketed star with global appeal who brings in about $19 million a year in endorsement deals, boosting his yearly income to the $40 million dollar range. Messi's soccer salary is narrowly more than Cristiano Ronaldo's and more than twice that of David Beckham. But he can't compete with Becks when it comes to endorsements. A Pepsi pitchman and underwear model, Beckham brings in about $37 million a year by selling his image.topLionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Lionel Messi(©Getty Images)Kobe BryantBasketball's biggest paycheque belongs to Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, whose annual salary of $27 million is nearly $7 million more than his nearest rival, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki. A five-time NBA champion and 15-time All Star, Bryant also carries major sway with advertisers, despite allegations of sexual assault that cost him deals with McDonalds and Nutella. But ongoing endorsements with Sprite, Turkish Airlines and Mercedes Benz, plus a lucrative deal with shoe giant Nike, boost Bryant's annual earnings by an additional $32 million a year.topKobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Kobe Bryant (©Getty Images)Roger Federer Tennis and golf stars don't sign contracts like their colleagues in team sports do. Instead, they earn income with prize money earned at tournaments, then pad their pockets through endorsements. And when it comes to marketing, few do it better than Swiss tennis player Roger Federer. When Forbes ranked the world's richest athletes last summer, they found Federer had earned $7.7 million for playing tennis, and another $45 million from his many endorsement deals, making him the second most marketed athlete on the planet.topRoger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Roger Federer(©Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features)Floyd MayweatherHis nickname is 'Money', so it's fitting that Floyd Mayweather was dubbed the world's highest paid athlete by Forbes magazine after back-to-back bouts that paid him $40 million or more. And thanks to his big bank account balance, Mayweather is able to maximize his earnings by promoting his own fights, covering the costs so he can take home all the revenue from tickets, sponsorships and lucrative pay-per-view fees. Still, it should be no surprise that the belligerent brawler, who was jailed last year for beating his girlfriend, doesn't earn a single dollar from endorsements.topFloyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Floyd Mayweather(©Getty Images)Alex RodriguezNew York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez owns the distinction of signing not just one, but both of the two biggest contracts in sports history. He's also the only athlete who can say he's signed for more than a quarter of a billion dollars. Rodriguez first set the standard for biggest contract in sports by inking a 10-year, $252 million dollar deal with the Texas Rangers in 2001. After being traded to the big spending Bronx Bombers, A-Rod broke his own earnings record with a 10-year, $275 million extension in 2007. In 2009, when he 'fessed up to taking steroids during his days with the Rangers, Rodriguez blamed the pressure of living up to his enormous income for driving him to take drugs.topAlex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Alex Rodriguez(©Getty Images)Kimi RaikkonenWhen Ferrari lured Formula One driver Kimi Raikonnen away from rival team McLaren Mercedes in 2007, they did so with the help of a three-year contract worth a staggering $51 million per season. That deal made the Finnish driver the highest paid man in the history of motor sports. Raikonnen paid Ferrari back for their largesse by winning the World Championship in his debut season with the famous team. After leaving Ferrari when his contract ended and switching to rally driving, Raikonnen returned to the F1 circuit last year. But he doesn't earn quite as much money anymore. These days, his contract with Lotus pays a paltry $13 million per season.topKimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)Kimi Raikkonen(©Rex Features)
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