Proving yet again that he’s a winner, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt has taken 32nd place in Forbes’ highest-paid athletes of 2016, moving up from No. 73 last year and earning the distinction of being the only track star to place in this year’s top 100.
The lightning Bolt hauled in a whopping US$32.5 million, made up of US$2.5 million in salary/winnings and US$30 million in celebrity endorsements.
According to Forbes, the 29-year-old sprinter has seven regional partners, along with 10 global ones, with Puma his biggest backer with a deal worth “north of $10 million a year.”
“Usain Bolt continues to blow away the competition on and off the track,” the magazine said. “He won gold in the 100 metres and 200 metres at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. It is the same double he pulled off at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. Bolt will race at the 2016 Rio Olympics with eyes on a three-peat.
“Bolt is in a class by himself in terms of his marketing prowess. His comps are not other track stars, but global icons like Messi, LeBron and Ronaldo. An Olympic year makes him an even hotter commodity.”
The world’s fastest man has earned his place among 100 top-earning athletes around the globe who cumulatively banked US$3.15 billion over the last 12 months, a notch below last year’s record total of US$3.22 billion, which was fuelled by the blockbuster fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
The two boxers ranked first and second last year with a combined US$460 million. This year the two earned US$68 million and ranked No. 16 (Mayweather) and No. 63 (Pacquiao).
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo landed the top spot for 2016 with earnings of US$88 million. This is the first year since 2001 that someone besides Mayweather or Tiger Woods ranked first.
Athletes from 10 different sports made this year’s cut, with baseball players the most dominant with 26 led by Clayton Kershaw at No. 33 with US$32 million.
The NFL (21 athletes), NBA (18) and soccer (12) were the next most prolific sports.
Seven tennis players made the cut along with six race car drivers, five golfers and three boxers.
Track and mixed martial arts each placed one athlete with Bolt at No. 32 and Conor McGregor at No. 85 (US$22 million).
There are 23 countries represented among the top 100 with Americans (65) the most prevalent thanks to soaring salaries in baseball, basketball and football. Five Brits landed in the top 100 led by F1 driver Lewis Hamilton at No. 11 and US$46 million.
Forbes’ earnings figures include all salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016.
In the case of baseball players, the listed salary will include salary from the 2015 and 2016 seasons, as well as any signing, award or playoff bonuses.
Winnings for golfers and tennis players represent their prize money over that period.
Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income for the 12 months through June 1 based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. The golfers’ income includes course design work.
Forbes does not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees and does not include investment income.
The list only includes athletes active during the last 12 months.
Michael Jordan outearns every active athlete and banked US$110 million in 2015 to rank first among the highest-paid retired athletes thanks to brisk sales of Nike’s Jordan brand.
Four iconic athletes in Mayweather, Pacquiao, Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant walked away from their sports over the past year, but made the top 100 thanks to their earnings over the past 12 months. (Caribbean360.com)