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World's Highest Paid Sports

The list of ESPN Top Salaries in Sports 2011 had baseball and boxing with the highest individual salary in that year. In another calculation described below, we analyzed the Forbes list of the highest-paid athletes from 1990-2010, and determined which sports were most prevalent on the lists. We found basketball ranked highest.

Calculation Method

Forbes magazine has been publishing lists of the highest paid athletes since 1990. The athletes come from a range of sports, but which are the highest paid? We determined which sports were most prevalent on the Annual Forbes list of the highest-paid athletes in the world, by taking the results of all the top 10 lists and looking at the sport that the athlete is involved with instead of the athlete themselves. Only the data from 1990-2010 has been analyzed.

basketball hoopIt Pays to Play Basketball

Although golfer Tiger Woods has been dominant on the top of the highest paid athlete lists recently, the dominance of Michael Jordan earlier on and several other basketballers who have also made the top 10 lists has ensured that basketball leads on this combined list. Even boxing and motorsports have had more sports people on the top 10 lists than golf. The ESPN Top Salaries in Sports 2011 has baseball and boxing on the top in terms of salary (they did not consider endorsements), with basketball 4th.

ranking sport total points
1 Basketball 305.0
2 Boxing 249.5
3 Auto Racing 207.5
4 Golf 191.5
5 American Football 34.5
6 Soccer 37.0
7 Tennis 32.5
8 Ice Hockey 16.5
9 Baseball 15.5
10 Cycling 1.5


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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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