By: Isha “Ice” Cole
The earnings of professional athletes have skyrocketed over the past few decades, and they are now raking in millions of dollars through salaries, endorsements and other ventures. It’s natural that anyone with more than six zeros in their bank account can anticipate some drama, but who cares when the money keeps rolling in? It all comes down to the bottom line.
Michael Jordan is an example of one superstar Gen-Xer who paved the way for big checks. We all know the power in the Jumpman logo and the mayhem that ensues when a new Jordan sneaker is released! Even retired, MJ’s net-worth is over $500 million dollars today and counting. But who is still caking out on the court?
According to Forbes 2011 Highest Paid Athletes list, there are active players of all ages raking in the dough, but Gen-Xer’s (born 1961-1981) do make up some of the top slots.
Based on that info, here is UrbLife.com‘s list of active top-earning Gen-X sports stars from around the world! Of course all figures are approximate, and some of the life drama noted below could possibly affect this list in the next few months. Yikes! Read on…
1. Tiger Woods (b. 1975) – Golf
Net Worth: $500 Million +
Tiger Woods has had many up and downs in the past few years, but that does not take away his spot at the top of this money making athletes chat.
When Tiger first turned pro in the ’90s Nike signed him to a five-year $40 million dollar deal, and a few years later Electronic Arts released the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game. That was only the beginning of the Tiger Woods takeover that would later include other sponsors like Rolex, PGA Tour, and Upper Deck.
The 2009 cheating scandal hit Tiger’s wallet hard. Not only did he lose a few sponsors, but his ex-wife was awarded $110 million dollars in their divorce settlement. Regardless, the Woods empire still allowed him to become the first athlete to earn a cumulative one billion bucks. Now that’s winning!
2. Michael Schumacher (b. 1969) – Racing
Net Worth: $400 Million +
German-born Michael Schumacher enjoys the fast car lifestyle, and was once the highest paid race car driver in the world. In 2004 he earned $80 million dollars, 40 million of which came from Ferrari alone.
Schumacher has a very impressive list of endorsements including Jet Set, Navy Boot, Audemars Piguet and Schuberth. Currently, the seven time F1 World Champion now races for the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team.
3. Kobe Bryant (b. 1978) – Basketball
Net Worth: $300 Million +
Kobe Bryant the best player in the NBA, arguably, and the star forward of the Los Angeles Lakers had to be towards the top of this list. In the 15 years that Bryant has been ballin’ in the league, he’s accomplished numerous accolades including five NBA Championships.
Bringing in an over $25 million salary from his team, Bryant’s endorsements include Nike, Sprite, Turkish Airlines and Mercedes-Benz Smart Car in China. But don’t count too fast… a divorce settlement could possibly shake his pockets!
At the end of 2011, Bryant’s wife Vanessa filed for a divorce, and she’s set to receive $75 million dollars from the settlement. Hmm, but the two were recently caught kissing, so maybe they’ll reconcile! We’ll just have to wait in see if love triumphs all and saves Bryant some mills at the same time!
4. Alex Rodriguez (b. 1975) – Baseball
Net Worth: $300 Million +
New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez is a guaranteed heavy hitter, breaking all types of records on the field, as well as behind the scenes with huge contracts. In 1994 the New York native began his Major League Baseball career with the Seattle Mariners, where he stayed for seven seasons.
So here comes the big money! In 2000 Rodriguez signed a 10-year $252 million dollar contract with the now bankrupt Texas Rangers. He was traded to the New York Yankees years later, and in 2007 he signed another huge contract in the amount of $275 million dollars for 10 years.
Today, Rodriguez is the highest paid player in Major League Baseball, and his endorsements have included Nike in South America and PepsiCo (before he was dropped after admitting to using PED). And hopefully he’ll see the $24.9 million dollars that he’s still owed from the Rangers.
5. David Beckham (b. 1975) – Soccer
Net Worth: $219 Million +
British heartthrob David Beckham has it all, from great looks and superb talent, to a happy family and large amounts of income piling in to the bank. In 1995 Beckham started with the Premier League playing for Manchester United, he then played for Real Madrid four seasons before moving to Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. In 2010 alone, Beckham’s income from personal sponsorship deals rose 30 percent.
Beckham is involved in many ventures, including his various fragrances, and last year he signed an agreement with Samsung to become the company’s global brand ambassador for the London Olympic Games. Most recently, Beckham’s hot body was seen in a 2012 Superbowl ad for his new Bodywear collection for H&M.
CLICK HERE to read David Beckham’s “Stylevolution” on UrbLife.com
6. Phil Mikelson (b. 1970) – Golf
Net Worth: $180 Million +
What will Phil do next? That’s the advertising campaign that Ford created for Golf star Phil Mickelson eight years ago, which explains how much he strives to succeed.
Besides winning 22 PGA Tour events, he’s also played in more than 40 major championships in his 20 years as a professional Golfer. Companies have jumped at the chance to use the Phil Mickelson name to brand their product.
Mickelson first endorsement contract was with Rolex, followed by Barclays, ExxonMobil and Gold Digest, among others. He was also tapped as the spokesman for pharmaceutical companies Amgen and Pfizer, makers of Enbrel, which Mickelson uses to treat his Psoriatic Arthritis.
7. Roger Federer (b. 1981) – Tennis
Net Worth: $150 Million +
When Roger Federer began playing tennis at the age of eight, who would have known that he would become a worldwide Tennis phenom. In 2010, Federer won his 16th Grand Slam single title at the Australian Open and as he continued to win, more money started coming in!
Federer was also named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year in 2005 to 2008 consecutively. The Switzerland native is on top of the professional Tennis cash list, with endorsements including Nike, Credit Suisse, Rolex and Wilson!
Tom Brady (b. 1977) – Football
Net Worth: $100 Million +
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a great season in 2011-2012, but he could not cap of the season with a win in the big game versus the New York Giants. But he has nothing to complain about with the dollar signs he’s seeing.
In 2010, the three-time Superbowl champion and two-time league MVP signed a four-year $72 million dollar contract extension with the Patriots. The contract was the NFL’s richest deal on an annual basis. Despite the Superbowl loss, Brady made about $10 million in endorsements in 2011.
*All net worth figures are approximate.