The World's Highest Paid Athletes for 1990-2010

Forbes magazine has been publishing lists of the highest-paid athletes since 1990. Here is an analysis of these lists from 1990-2010 to determine which athletes had been featured on the lists the most. This is our own analysis of the data presented by Forbes. Total earnings are calculated based on money derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and licensing income. See also the Forbes list of the highest paid athletes of the decade (2010-2020) and the Forbes highest paid athlete of all time.

Jordan Highest of the Highest Paid

We analyzed all of the top 10 highest paid athlete lists from this period to determine which athlete has appeared the most times and how high they appeared on the list. All data from the first list of 1990 up until and including 2010 has been used in these calculations.

jordan jumping for joyWe have combined all the lists by giving 10 votes for being on the top of a list, and one less for each rank below that (e.g. 1 vote for being 10th on the list). If two or more athletes were known to tie for a position, the points were shared equally. Only the top 20 position are shown here. Considering that Michael Jordan has appeared on 17 of these top 10 lists (6 times in top position) and Tiger Woods has appeared on 13 of the lists (top position 9 times), there is no surprise seeing these two battle for the top of this master list. Tiger woods is expected to continue to gain points, but maybe not as many as he has in the past.

ranking name sport total points
1 Michael Jordan basketball 144.0
2 Tiger Woods Golf 111.0
3 Michael Schumacher auto racing 97.0
4 Shaquille O'Neal Basketball 70.5
5 Mike Tyson boxing 60.5
6 Oscar De La Hoya Boxing 45.0
7 Evander Holyfield boxing 44.0
8 Kobe Bryant basketball 36.5
9 Phil Mickelson golf 33.5
10 David Beckham soccer 32.5
11 Ayrton Senna auto racing 29.0
12 Arnold Palmer golf 23.0
13 Grant Hill Basketball 21.5
=14 Kimi Raikkonen F1 racing 21.0
=14 Andre Agassi Tennis 21.0
16 Jack Nickalus Golf 20.0
=17 Alain Prost France 18.0
=17 George Foreman boxing 18.0
19 Lennox Lewis Boxing 17.0
=20 Dale Earnhardt NASCAR 16.0
=20 Riddick Bowe Boxing 16.0


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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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