Every year, Sports Illustrated publishes its Fortunate 50, which highlights the top earning athletes in the United States (SI separately produces the International 20). This year’s Fortunate 50 is led by Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who took in $85 million from two fights and zero endorsements. The phrase “boxing is dead” clearly does not apply in Mayweather’s case (prize money is fueled by spectator interest).
There are a total of 13 basketball players, 11 football players, and 19 baseball players in the Fortunate 50 (comprising 86% of the list). It should not be surprising that baseball players dominate the list; their salaries are guaranteed and there is no salary cap in Major League Baseball (as opposed to the NFL’s hard cap and the NBA’s soft cap). However, the bulk of baseball players’ money comes from their salaries and not from endorsements, Derek Jeter being the exception, who earns almost as much money from endorsements as he does from the New York Yankees. Compare that to Adrian Gonzalez (#25 on the list), who earned $21,857,142 from his salary with the Boston Red Sox and only $500,000 in estimated endorsement money.
What should be surprising are the names that correspond to numbers 17 and 42 on the Fortunate 50. Number 17 is Vernon Wells, who receives the second largest MLB salary (behind Alex Rodriguez) at $24,187,500. Number 42 is one of the newest members of the Miami Heat – Rashard Lewis – who had a salary of $17,015,000. Lewis is represented by basketball agent Tony Dutt. Wells is represented by Greg Genske of The Legacy Agency.