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The World's Highest Paid Athletes List 2012

Tiger Woods has lost his title as the world's highest paid athlete, which he had held since 2002, dropping to third place behind boxers Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Below is the top 10 of the highest earning sports people from 2012, taken from the annual list “The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes” published by Forbes magazine in June 2012.

Mayweather fought only two fights in the previous year, though he maximizes his earnings by acting as his own fight promoter through his company Mayweather Promotions and therefore takes a greater percentage of his winnings. Both of these boxers had a rapid rise in the rankings - Pacquiao only ranked 24th last year with 25 million dollars in earnings, as he only had one fight during that period, and Mayweather was even lower on the list.

There were athletes from 11 different sports in the top 100, including two from cricket: MS Dhoni at 31 and Sachin Tendulkar at 78. Jamaican Track and field star Usain Bolt ranked 63 with $20.3 million in earnings. There were 30 players from American football in the top 100.

Manny Pacquiao Manny Pacquiao - boxers are very well paid

The highest paid female athlete was Maria Sharapova with 27.9 million dollars in earnings, ranking her 26th on this list. The only other female on the list is another tennis player, Chinese player Li Na, who came in at no. 81 ($18.4 mil).

The earnings totals (in US dollars) are derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing and endorsement income in the 12 months from May 1, 2011 to May 1, 2012. Taxes or agents' fees are not factored into the figures. See also the top earning lists from other years.

Top-10 Highest Earning Sports people from 2012

Rank Name Sport Nationality earning
($ million)
previous year
1 Floyd Mayweather Boxing USA $85 ?
2 Manny Pacquiao Boxing Filipino $62 =24
3 Tiger Woods Golf USA $59.4 1
4 LeBron James Basketball USA $53 3
5 Roger Federer Tennis Switzerland $52.7 4
6 Kobe Bryant Basketball USA $52.3 2
7 Phil Mickelson Golf USA $47.8 5
8 David Beckham Soccer UK $46 6
9 Cristiano Ronaldo Soccer Portugal $42.5 21
10 Peyton Manning American Football USA $42.4 7

Next on the list were: Lionel Messi, Haloti Ngata, Larry Fitzgerald, Ndamukong Suh, Charles Johnson, Rafael Nadal, Mario Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Fernando Alonso, Valentino Rossi.

source: from “The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes” published by Forbes magazine in June 2012.

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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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