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ESPN Top Athlete Salaries by Country: 2011

Here are lists of the highest paid athletes from each country of the world in 2011, according to ESPN The Magazine. This data only includes the highest paid athlete from each country based on the official base salary or earnings from the most recently completed season or calendar year, but does not include endorsements, appearance fees, sponsorship money and other sources of extra income. ESPN also published a list of the top salaries from each sport for 2011.

Top-10 Countries

Here are the top 10 countries with the highest paid athletes. The USA and Philippines tied with the highest paid athletes Alex Rodriguez and Manny Pacquiao, with the lowest paid bring sprinter Michael Junior Jackson from Niue (see complete list).

rank Country Annual Salary Best-Paid Athlete Sport League, Team
(or Competition)
1 USA 32,000,000 Alex Rodriguez baseball MLB, New York Yankees
2 Philippines 32,000,000 Manny Pacquiao boxing two fights in 2010
3 Finland 26,333,333 Kimi Raikkonen auto racing World Rally Championship
4 Spain 22,736,842 Fernando Alonso auto racing Formula One
5 Venezuela 21,644,707 Johan Santana baseball MLB, New York Mets
6 Italy 20,800,000 Valentino Rossi motorcycle racing Moto GP
7 Portugal 19,500,000 Cristiano Ronaldo soccer La Liga, Real Madrid
8 Puerto Rico 19,325,436 Carlos Beltran baseball MLB, New York Mets
9 Dominican Republic 19,000,000 Alfonso Soriano baseball MLB, Chicago Cubs
10 Argentina 19,000,000 Carlos Tevez soccer EPL, Manchester City

Top Ten Countries Per GDP

Even though Alex Rodriguez and Manny Pacquiao earned the same base salary in 2011, Manny will be much better off with his $32 million back home in the Philippines. To highlight which athletes will be best off at home with their earnings, we have compared the salary to the per capita GDP. The GDP per capita is the average amount that the country produces per citizen, and is an indication of the strength of the ecconomy in that country. The highest ranked athlete is Emmanuel Adebayor who earned 24,792 times more than his country's per capita GDP.

Below are the top 10 on this list - you can see the complete list the 182 countries/athletes based on per capita GDP.

Rank Country Best-Paid Athlete Sport Annual Salary Per Capita GDP Salary / PC-GDP
1 Togo Emmanuel Adebayor soccer 11,900,000 480 24792
2 Haiti Samuel Dalembert basketball 12,200,000 626 19489
3 Philippines Manny Pacquiao boxing 32,000,000 1747 18317
4 Ivory Coast Yaya Toure soccer 18,200,000 1093 16651
5 Dem. Rep. of the Congo Herita Ilunga soccer 2,730,000 170 16059
6 Mali Frederic Kanoute soccer 8,600,000 679 12666
7 Zimbabwe Benjani Mwaruwari soccer 3,405,584 324 10511
8 Tanzania Hasheem Thabeet basketball 4,793,280 526 9113
9 Ghana Michael Essien soccer 5,500,000 627 8772
10 Sudan Luol Deng basketball 11,355,850 1305 8702



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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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