Highest paid athletes of 2010

This week, Sports Illustrated released its “Fortunate 50” list of the highest-earning U.S. athletes in 2010.

Despite a rough year on both a personal and professional level, Tiger Woods once again tops the list with earnings of $62.3 million.  Fellow golfer Phil Mickelson stayed in second place with $61.2 million, followed by everyone’s favorite “arrogant athlete,” LeBron James with $44.5 million.  Here is a detailed list of the top 10, including a breakdown by income sources.

One might look at this list and ponder who is overpaid/underpaid. Given the current economic environment we live in, combined with the fact that there are a mind-boggling amount of zeros and commas in these figures, I will make a hasty generalization and say that they’re ALL overpaid.

That being said, while the dollar amounts quoted in the list may seem absurdly high, we must remember that athletes have an extremely rare skill and can also be viewed as “entertainers.”  In addition, these figures also pale in comparison to what some top CEOs and hedge fund managers earn annually.

Enough ranting from me.  I submit to you a list of notable tidbits and observations:

  • Golfers make a pretty penny off of endorsements.  Despite his image problems, Woods made a whopping $60 million as a pitchman for the likes of Nike and EA.  Mickelson wasn’t far behind, earning $57 million from Callaway, Rolex and others.  Jim Furyk (#17) also made a nice $9 million in endorsements.
  • Similarly, NASCAR drivers do well with endorsements, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#13) earning $22 million and Jeff Gordon making $18 million.
  • Matt Ryan (#8) ranks higher than Tom Brady (#9), thanks to his #32.3 million in salary/earnings.  Huh?
  • Vernon Wells of the Angels is #20 with $23.3 million.  This puts him ahead of the likes of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols.  Thanks, Blue Jays.
  • Mark Sanchez (#38) ahead of Eli Manning (#47).  Zero rings versus one?
  • A.J. Burnett ranked #41, with $16.8 million.  Yankees fans and haters are equally offended by this.

Overall, MLB pitchers and NBA players make a darn good living.  And after spending their nights getting smashed into the boards and dodging 90MPH pucks, not one NHL player makes the list, which may make them “underpaid” compared to the rest.

Here’s a link to the 2009 top paid jocks if you want to compare.

Oh, and I’ll be getting my kids their own sets of golf clubs very soon.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.

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