Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, and Lebron James Are the 3 Highest Paid Athletes in Sports


With a win on Tuesday, the Miami Heat will be one game away from bringing the NBA championship back to South Beach for the first time since 2006.

It should be an interesting clash between the heat and their rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sitting in front of their television for the Tuesday game will be 99% of America, as they watch their most beloved (or hated) 1-percenter — Miami Heat Forward Lebron James — earn his $53 million salary.

James is one of the richest athletes in sports. On Monday, Forbes Magazine published their annual list of the “World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes,” and James helped round out the top 5, though he dropped from #3 to #4. James earned $40 million in endorsements from Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Nike, among other sponsors, and $13 million between his salary and winnings. LeBron is the highest paid athlete in the NBA, edging out Kobe Bryant who earns $52.3 million per year.

In other words, he is the 1%. But while LeBron is the 1%, the three athletes who own spots 1 through 3 on the Forbes list should be considered the 0.1%.

Here’s a look at them:

Tiger Woods - #3 – $59.4 Million

In ‘08-‘09, Tiger Woods earned $110 million. In ’09-‘10, he earned $90.5 million. In ’10-‘11, $75 million, and in ’11-‘12, $59.4 million. Although there has been a steep decline in his earnings as a result of losing sponsors such as Gatorade, AT&T, Tag Heuer, and Gillette after his off-the-course sex scandals, he has still managed to earn the third-most in sports in 2012, with $55 million still coming from endorsements, namely Nike. Although Tiger Woods has become a brand name, so to speak, as a result of his dominance within golf, the fact that he is still endorsed so lucratively after his promiscuous escapades is a bit absurd.

Manny Pacquiao - #2 - $62 Million

Although congressmen usually do not have Forbes Top 10 list-sized salaries, Filipino politician and star boxer Manny Pacquiao earned $62 million in 2012, placing him #2 on the list. Pacquiao earned $6 million from endorsements, namely Nike and Hewlett-Packard, and $56 million from his winnings. However, within the ’11-’12 time period examined, Pacquiao only fought twice — winning once on a majority decision and losing on a controversial split decision. Given his earnings and the two full 36-minute matches he competed in, he earned approximately $850,000 per minute.

Floyd Mayweather - #1 - $85 Million

Imagine if you were able to earn your yearly salary in less than an hour. This is exactly what Floyd Mayweather has done — and became the richest sports star in doing so. In this short time period, he has managed to win on a unanimous decision against Miguel Cotto and knock out Victor Ortiz, raking in $85 million between the two bouts. Although I am sure that intense and time-consuming training is involved, let alone the brutality of the sport of boxing, Floyd Mayweather only worked two days this year to earn his multimillion-dollar income, demonstrating his status as a 1-percenter.