Sunday, March 26, 2006

World's Best Paid Athetes

Andre Agassi
Age: 35
Sport: TennisEarnings: $26.2 million*
Despite recent injuries and time off, the 35-year-old, eight-time Grand Slam champion isn't ready to give up. Of course, his quarterfinal performance at the 2005 U.S. Open--he lost in five sets to fellow American James Blake--proved he doesn't need to. While the talent is still there, Agassi's logo has changed. After sporting the Nike swoosh for well over a decade, the tennis sensation signed a long-time partnership with Adidas in July 2005.

Lance Armstrong
Age: 34
Sport: CyclingEarnings: $28 million*
He may be a seven-time Tour de France winner, but it is Armstrong's high-profile split with fiancé and Grammy-winner Sheryl Crow that gets all of the attention lately. The recently retired cancer survivor devotes much of his time to his philanthropic pursuits.

David Beckham
Age: 30
Sport: SoccerEarnings: $32.5 million*
Soccer's golden boy left Manchester United for the riches of Real Madrid in 2003. And though his new team has been unlucky on the field, the star midfielder is still soccer's highest-paid player off the field. Indeed, Beckham earns $24 million from endorsements.

Kobe Bryant
Age: 27
Sport: BasketballEarnings: $28.8 million*
Despite a public image that took a beating due to a rape charge that has since been dropped and a high-profile feud with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, the L.A. Lakers star can still wow. Earlier this year, Bryant scored an astonishing 81 points against Toronto. Feats like these explain why Nike launched a signature shoe, dubbed Zoom Kobe I, for him.

Jeff Gordon
Age: 34
Sport: Auto RacingEarnings: $23.4 million*
Add Gordon's prize earnings to his endorsement deals--including those with Pepsi, DuPont and Tag Heuer--and it's no surprise the four-time NASCAR champion raked in $23.4 million. Despite the defending champ's disappointing Daytona 500 finish this year, the racing legend will continue to pull in the big bucks.

LeBron James
Age: 21
Sport: BasketballEarnings: $22.9 million*
James, who skipped college to go pro in 2003, has proven his all-star ability with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Between his astounding stats and a hefty endorsement portfolio--which include Nike, Upper Deck and Coca-Cola--the 6-foot-8 forward earned close to $23 million. Of course, his wallet is sure to grow even thicker when he renews his contracts next year.

Michael Jordan
Age: 43
Sport: BasketballEarnings: $33 million*
Arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Jordan ended a career of 15 full seasons in 2003. Of course, the money still flows in thanks to endorsement deals with Nike and others.

Shaquille O'Neal
Age: 34
Sport: BasketballEarnings: $33.4 million*
O'Neal, or simply "Shaq," seems at peace in the Florida sun, playing for the Miami Heat--at least that's what the much-hyped handshakes and hugs with nemesis and former teammate Kobe Bryant indicated earlier this year. Despite a recent ankle injury, the 7-footer proves he's still in the game after some 13 seasons in the NBA.

Michael Schumacher
Age: 37
Sport: Auto RacingEarnings: $60 million*
Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One world champion, is coping with difficulties. For the first time in six years, he kicked off a racing season without a number one mounted on his Ferrari. The German racing legend watched his income drop as Ferrari struggled with new rules and tire problems.

Tiger Woods
Age: 30
Sport: GolfEarnings: $87 million*
After a brief rocky period--Woods did not win a major in 2003 or 2004--the golfing sensation returned to form during the 2005 PGA Tour season. Among his many feats, Wood's broke his majors "drought" with a win at the 2005 Masters--his fourth Masters victory and tenth major golf championship.

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