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Sunday, 22 May 2011

The 10 Most Powerful Athletes (Forbes)

Tiger Woods
Woods has struggled to win tournaments and sign new sponsorship deals since his November 2009 car crash and the infidelity scandal that followed. Yet Woods continues to be the world’s best-paid athlete thanks to $3 million overseas appearance fees and two sponsors that stuck with him: Nike and Electronic Arts. First week sales this spring of EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters were the highest in the 14-year history of the popular video game franchise. 

LeBron James
James’ reputation took a hit last summer when he announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat on a national televised special dubbed “The Decision”. His negative Q score soared 77%. Despite the animosity, James continues to be a hot ticket. His jersey was the NBA’s best seller this season and he has the No. 1 basketball shoe on the market. In April, James partnered with Fenway Sports Group to manage his business interests. As part of the deal James received a very small stake in FSG-owned soccer club, Liverpool. 

Kobe Bryant
Bryant’s Lakers were swept out of the playoffs in a shocking end to their season after two straight NBA titles. Bryant continues to be the NBA’s biggest star in China where he has a popular web site and recently signed on as pitchman for Mercedes-Benz’s local Smart Car brand. Bryant’ $24.8 million salary this year is $4 million more than any other player.


Roger Federer
Arguably the greatest tennis player ever, the Federer era may be nearing its end. He has been passed by both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the rankings. Federer still commands the most impressive endorsement portfolio in all of sports with 10 major deals including Nike, Credit Suisse, Rolex and Wilson. He was the only one of Gillette’s original 3 “Champions” to have his deal renewed this year as the brand dropped Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry. 

David Beckham
Beckham’s pitch prowess has declined in recent years as the 36-year-old’s career winds down. Yet he is still soccer’s top endorser thanks to a massive deal with Adidas that pays him royalties from Beckham branded soccer apparel and cleats as well as Beckham-approved clothing from lifestyle lines like ObyO. He signed a deal with Samsung in May to become the company's global brand ambassador for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson’s world ranking has dropped the past two years, but he continues to be a hot commodity with sponsors--only Tiger Woods earns more off the course. Last year he was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis but Lefty maintains that it will have no long-term effect on his golf career. Mickelson inked a deal at the end of the year as a spokesman for Amgen and Pfizer, makers of Enbrel, the drug Mickelson uses to treat his condition. 

Cristiano Ronaldo
The Real Madrid star is using social media to expand his brand, which makes him more attractive to current sponsorship partners like Nike, Castrol, Clear Shampoo and Banco Espirito. Ronaldo has racked up 25 million Facebook fans, more than twice as many as any other athlete. He also has nearly 3 million Twitter followers.

Rafael Nadal
Nadal became the youngest player in the Open Era to capture the career Grand Slam when he won the U.S. Open in September, 2010 at age 24. Nadal’s endorsement portfolio has begun to catch up with his on-court success. This year he started shilling for Bacardi and Giorgio Armani in addition to holdovers like Nike, Babolat and Kia Motor. He earned $10.5 million in prize money over the last 12 months.

Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod was the top unsecured creditor when the Texas Rangers filed for bankruptcy last year. He was owed $24.9 million in deferred compensation from the record-breaking $252 million contract he signed with Texas in 2000. The issue was resolved when a group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg purchased the Rangers at a bankruptcy auction for $593 million in August.

Tom Brady
The two-time league MVP signed a four-year, $72 million contract extension in September with the Patriots that is the NFL’s richest deal on an annual basis. Brady swapped his Nikes for Under Armour cleats in November when he became the brand’s highest-profile player. Brady sold his New York City condo for $17.5 million and managed to turn a $3.5 million profit despite buying the home at the market peak in 2006. He and his wife, model Gisele B√ľndchen recently built a 20,000 square foot, $20 million home in Los Angeles.

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