Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Forbes has published its annual list of The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes, ranking sports figures based on the money they've raked in over the last 12 months, between June 2011 and June 2012. Boxers take the top two spots: Floyd Mayweather Jr. at No. 1 with $85 million and the guy people have been wanting him to fight for two years now, Manny Pacquiao, at No. 2 with $62 million. Rounding out the top five are Tiger Woods at No. 3 with $59.4 million, LeBron James at No. 4 with $53 million, and Roger Federer at No. 5 at $52.7 million.

Forbes explains that the earning figures it compiled include salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing, and endorsement income. So there are a number of ways athletes become filthy rich. All of Mayweather's $85 mil came from what he made in the ring, considering he owns his own fight promotion company, while $45 mil of Federer's $52.7 mil came from endorsements, so he made most of his fortune away from the court.

The business magazine also points out that 30 NFL players made the list of 100 highest-paid athletes, which is more than any other sport, but an anomaly this year because many NFL players, it reports, had bonuses delayed until the summer of 2011 that normally would have been paid in March due to the NFL lockout. Plus, several players had their 2012 salaries converted into signing bonuses and paid out in March to alleviate team’s salary cap issues. As a result, of those high-earning NFLers, four are Carolina Panthers: defensive end Charles Johnson at No. 15 with $34.4 million, linebacker Jon Beason at No. 56 with $21.4 million, running back DeAngelo Williams at No. 66 with $19.9 million, and center Ryan Kalil at No. 71 with $19.4 million (the NFL's highest paid center).

Charles Johnson, photographed with a kid at his football camp last week, is the highest paid athlete in Charlotte over the past year and No. 15 in the world. Credit: @randywattson

Also in relation to Charlotte, there are four NASCAR drivers on the list who call this area home. Dale Earnhardt Jr. at No. 23 with $28.2 million (making him NASCAR's top-earning driver thanks largely to $15 million in endorsements), Jeff Gordon at No. 42 with $23.6 million ($10 million in endorsements), Tony Stewart at No. 47 with $22.3 million ($7 million in endorsements), and Jimmie Johnson at No. 53 with $21.5 million ($7 million in endorsements). It's also worth noting that three of these four drivers, with the exception of Stewart, are a part of the Hendrick Motorsports team.

So, there are a total of eight Charlotte-area athletes on the list via the Panthers and NASCAR (but no Charlotte Bobcats). As I often say, there's a lot of money in this town.


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