Tiger still the richest
Tiger Woods, who has fallen to 13th in the world golf rankings without a title since November of 2009, remains atop the list of the world's highest-paid athletes according to Forbes magazine.
While Woods has seen his annual earnings plunge 50 million dollars over the past two years, he remained atop the Top 50 list with 75 million dollars over the past 12 months to outpace NBA star Kobe Bryant, the runner-up at 53 million dollars.
The list considers not only player salaries but all endorsement and sponsor income, with Woods having become the first career 1-billion-dollar sports pitchman before his epic fall from grace when a sordid sex scandal was revealed in 2009.
Woods lost such sponsors as Accenture, AT&T, Gillette and PepsiCo but retained Nike and EA Sports, who together bring more than half of Woods' income over the 12-month period ending May 1.
The golf videogame bearing his name was a big seller this year as it was the first of its kind to feature Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters.
Woods was the catalyst for a Nike Golf division that had sales of 638 million dollars last year while the 14th edition of the Woods videogame had record first-week sales of 225,000 units.
The drop by Woods and lack of a fight by boxer Floyd Mayweather, last year's No. 2 on the list with 65 million dollars, led a drop of 11 per cent by the combined list to a total income of 1.4 billion dollars.
Another factor was an NFL lockout that kept new deals from being signed last March and April for American football star free agents. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots led three gridiron stars on the 2011 list at 31 million dollars.
Bryant tops 15 basketball players on the Forbes list, with his 24.8-million-dollar salary topping any NBA rival by 4 million dollars.
LeBron James, playing in the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat, ranks third on the list with 48 million dollars.
The only woman on the list was Maria Sharapova, who was ranked 29th with 24.2 million dollars, in large part thanks to apparel deals with Nike and Cole Haan shoes.
Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was fourth on the list at 47 million dollars followed in order by US golfer Phil Mickelson at 46.5 million dolars, English footballer David Beckham at 40 million dollars, football's Cristiano Ronaldo at 38 million dolars, US baseball star Alex Rodriguez at 35 million dollars, German auto racer Michael Schumacher at 34 million dollars and football's Lionel Messi at 32.3 million dollars.
At the bottom of the list of the richest were two NBA stars, Spanish playmaker Pau Gasol of the Lakers in 49th at 18.9 million dollars, a mere 100,000 above American Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The minimum to make last year's list was 21 million dollars.