1. Tiger Woods
(Sport: Pro Golf / Annual Income: $100 million)
Still in his early thirties, Tiger Woods made nearly $23 million on the golf course and brought in a whopping $105 million in endorsements giving him a total of $127,902,706 and the No. 1 ranking for the fifth straight year as richest athlete.
He might lost that title this year, rumored after his adultery scandal was spread some sponsors are breaked up with him. Woods has earned almost $900 million in prize money, endorsements and appearance fees during his 13-year professional golf career and next year is poised to become the first athlete to earn $1 billion during a career. Woods racked up more than twice the earnings of any other athlete over the past 12 months despite being sidelined for eight months after knee surgery thanks to lucrative endorsement deals with Accenture, Gillette and Nike as well as a thriving golf course design business.
No. 2 Kobe Bryant
Bryant secured his place among the NBA’s all-time greats when he won his fourth NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers in June. The Black Mamba’s popularity is at its zenith as his No. 24 jersey is the top seller in the U.S., Europe and China. Bryant pads his $21 million Lakers salary through endorsement deals with Nike, Upper Deck, Activision and VitaminWater.
NO 3: Micheal Jordan
MJ retired as a player for the third and presumably final time six years ago, but he is still the most famous athlete in the United States. The Jordan Brand is approaching $1 billion in sales for Nike which turned Jordan into a marketing phenomenon. Jordan is on the short list of potential buyers for the Charlotte Bobcats where he is head of basketball operations and a minority owner
No. 4 Kimi Raikkonen
Formula One’s highest-paid driver finished a disappointing third in the World Championship standings last year after winning the title in 2007. This year has been even worse for the Iceman who sits in 10th place in the current standings. Ferrari resigned Raikkonen in September to a one-year contract extension keeping the Finn behind the wheel for Ferrari through 2010.
No. 5 David Beckham
Becks is far from the best player on the pitch, but he is still the most famous which is why companies like Adidas, Giorgio Armani and Motorola pay him millions for his endorsement. Beckham spent five months on loan this year playing for AC Milan before his planned return to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in July when the MLS season is half over.
NO 6 LeBron James
The NBA’s MVP led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the league’s best record and had a playoff performance for the ages this year, but his team was bounced from the playoffs by the Orlando Magic in the Conference Finals. His free agency next summer has teams maneuvering to get under the salary cap in hopes of signing King James. The Cavs can offer the biggest contract under NBA salary rules, but James might go in search of a bigger market.
NO 7 Manny Pacquiao
(Boxing / $40 million)
A little surprise that the biggest earning in boxing sport doesn't come from the Heavyweight division, and not from U.S boxer too. But Manny Pacquiao is now the best pound per pound boxer, and become the most wanted target by any challenger in the world.
No. 8 Phil Mickelson
Playing second fiddle to Tiger Woods has proven very lucrative for the world’s second-ranked player. His most lucrative deal is with Callaway, which signed Mickelson to a five-year extension this year. Other sponsors include Barclay’s, Exxon, KPMG and Rolex. Mickelson has won $54 million in prize money during his career, third all-time behind Woods and Vijay Singh
NO 9 Lionel Messi
(Soccer / $39 million)
This 2009 FIFA World Player only playing for one team for his entire career, Barcelona. He is still 22-year-old, and we'll see if he can win the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Argentina, how much raise will he get?
NO 10. Alex Rodriguez
(MLB / $39 million)
Baseball's greatest player earned an incredible $29 million on the field this year while bringing in a relatively modest $6 million in endorsements, with a total income of $39 million.