Mayweather Unseeds Woods On Forbes' List of Highest-Paid Athletes
By Tim Richardson
For the first time since 2001, golfer Tiger Woods does not sit atop Forbes' list of the "100 World's Highest-Paid Athletes."
The No. 1 spot now belongs to boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is currently serving a three-month jail sentence in a Las Vegas prison for pleading guilty to a domestic assault charge stemming from an attack on his former girlfriend. The plea deal allowed him to avoid trial on felony charges and the possibility of serving up to 34 years in prison if convicted.
Forbes compiles its list based on athletes' salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees and licensing and endorsement income for the 12 months between June 2011 and June 2012. The list comprises athletes from 11 different sports.
It's appropriate that Mayweather's nickname is "Money" -- the 43-0 prizefighter made $85 million for two fights to claim the top spot as the world's highest-paid athlete. According to Forbes senior editor Kurt Badenhausen, Mayweather maximized his earnings by also acting as his own promoter through his company, Mayweather Promotions. As a result, he collects all the revenue from tickets, pay-per-view buys and sponsorships while covering the costs, including the purse for his opponent.
Another boxer, Manny Pacquiao, is second on Forbes' list, with $62 million from earnings and endorsements. Earlier this month, Pacquiao lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight title to Timothy Bradley in a controversial decision. The WBO completed its review of that fight June 20, with its five-member international judging panel all scoring the fight for Pacquiao. The official result will stand, and a rematch is certain.
Outside the ring, the Filipino boxer made $6 million through endorsements with the likes of Nike, Hewlett-Packard and Hennessy.
Woods, who held the top spot for a decade, now ranks third with earnings of $59.4 million. Badenhausen said Woods' total earnings decreased $16 million from last year and have been cut in half since peaking in 2009. Woods' highly publicized affairs, which came out at the end of 2009, have cost him key endorsements from sponsors such as Tag Heuer and Gillette.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James is the highest ranked of the 13 NBA players on the list, coming in fourth with $53 million in earnings, including his fees as a pitch man for Nike, Coca-Cola and others. Rounding out the top five is the holder of a record 16 Grand Slam singles titles and the world's third-ranked tennis player, Roger Federer ($52.7 million).
F. Keith Duncan, ChFC, is a principal at Duncan Investment Partners. He is an independent financial adviser through LPL Financial, a member of FINRA/SIPC. Duncan said that for many athletes, earning the money isn't the difficult part; keeping it is where they struggle.
There are a plenty of examples of athletes who made millions of dollars during their careers, but later filed for bankruptcy because of reckless spending, unsuccessful real-estate deals or simply bad advice from family and friends.
Antoine Walker was the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and played 13 seasons in the NBA. Walker earned roughly $110 million throughout his career, then filed for bankruptcy in May 2010. According to court documents, Walker accumulated nearly $12.7 million in debts, while having just $4.3 million in total assets.
As part of his bankruptcy case, Walker was forced to sell the NBA Championship ring he won with Miami in 2006. Just four years ago, Walker earned a spot on Forbes' list of the "The Best-Paid Bench Warmers."
Duncan said athletes could avoid being in Walker's shoes if they helped themselves.
"A completely transparent relationship between the athlete and their trusted, qualified financial adviser is extremely important to sustaining a player's financial success in the long term," Duncan said. "Whether it's working out a monthly budget, or discussing potential large purchases, such as a multi-million-dollar home, having their adviser closely involved in financial matters helps an athlete correctly evaluate how decisions they make today will affect them down the line."
Depending on the sport, an athlete's professional career may not last more than a few years.
"Athletes need to have a contingency plan in place for many reasons," Duncan said, "such as an injury that ends their careers. So it's important to create a financial plan that looks for safety and security, one that drifts toward a fixed income and a liquid type portfolio."
The highest-ranked soccer player on Forbes' list is David Beckham, at No. 8 with earnings of $46 million.
The NFL has the largest number of athletes on the list with 30 players. Current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the highest-ranked NFL player, earning $42.4 million from the Indianapolis Colts last year despite missing all season because of a neck injury.
What may surprise many is the second-highest-ranked NFL player on the list. Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata ranks 12th overall at $37.3 million. According to Forbes, Ngata earned $37.1 million in salary and bonuses from the Ravens, along with $200,000 in endorsements, during the qualifying period for the list. He signed a five-year deal with the Ravens in September worth $61 million.
Of the 21 baseball players to make the cut, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is the highest ranked at No. 18 overall, with $33 million.
The two female professional athletes on the list are both tennis players. Maria Sharapova ranks 26th with earnings of $27.9 million. Popular on Madison Avenue with sponsors that include Nike, Head, Samsung and Evian, Sharapova is also now the top-ranked female tennis player in the world. She recently completed a career Grand Slam with her French Open title and earned close to $6 million in prize money during the past 12 months.
Forbes ranks Li Na 81st overall with earnings of $18.4 million. She had just three career WTA victories before 2011, when she reached two Grand Slam finals and won the French Open title. Following her win at Roland Garros, she signed seven multi-million-dollar endorsement deals with companies that include Häagan-Dazs, Samsung, Mercedes and several Chinese entities.
Closing the list at No. 100 with Forbes' cut-off of $16.6 million is Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy.
For their 12 months of work, the top 100 combined to take in $2.6 billion.
Posted June 21, 2012