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By Daniel Roberts
When boxer Floyd Mayweather first topped this list in 2011, it was a surprise. By now, it’s expected. This is his third year in the No. 1 spot, and he does it all without any endorsements. Also worth noting: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were only ninth and 10th among all golfers for PGA Tour winnings in the period we measured, but off-the-course endorsements keep them high on this list; thanks to fat signing bonuses on new contracts, four quarterbacks are in the top 10, compared to just two last year; and two athletes who aren’t even playing this season (but have not retired), Gilbert Arenas and Vernon Wells, made the list due to deferred money. Among those who have dropped off the list: Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
Our findings consist solely of (pre-tax) salary, winnings, bonuses and paid endorsements (additional earnings athletes get from speaking engagements and their own side businesses are not reflected). For salaries or winnings, we consult players’ associations, tour records, online databases, agents and media reports. Endorsement totals are estimates that come from the players’ agents and a stable of experts and marketing executives, including Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing.
Candidates for the Fortunate 50 must be U.S. citizens or play in a U.S.-based league. Endorsements reflect current deals, while salaries are based on the current or the most recently completed season; for instance, for NFL players the season that ended in February was used. (Thus new deals for this coming season, like Jay Cutler’s $126 million extension, aren’t reflected.) For auto racing and tennis, prize money comes from the 2013 calendar year. Golf tournament winnings are from May 5, 2013 (the Wells Fargo Championship) through April 20, 2014 (the RBC Heritage). Boxing purses are for the 2014 calendar year (and include projected money from bouts that will happen later this year).
For the second time since Sports Illustrated started publishing the Fortunate 50 in 2004, this year’s list is again a collaboration between SI and Fortune. For comparison with last year’s list, take a look behind the numbers.