Woods Remains Top-Paid Athlete as Income Plunges, Sports Illustrated Says

Tiger Woods remains the top-earning U.S. athlete even though the golfer’s endorsement income fell by about $22 million following his admission of infidelity, according to Sports Illustrated.

Woods had $20.5 million in winnings and $70 million in endorsement income to top SI.com’s “Fortunate 50” list for the seventh time in the seven years it’s been published.

Endorsers such as Accenture Plc, AT&T Inc., Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette razors and PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade ended their relationships with Woods, who took almost five months off from golf. His endorsement income a year ago was estimated to be $92 million, according to SI.

Before his off-course problems, Woods won six tournaments and $10.5 million in purses in 2009, his third-best season since turning professional in 1996. He also won a $10 million bonus for the season-long FedEx Cup title.

Fellow golfer Phil Mickelson is again second to Woods at $61.6 million, up from $52.9 million the previous year. Boxer Floyd Mayweather ranked third, with $60 million of his $60.3 million coming from fight purses and pay-per-view sales.

LeBron James, who earlier this month left the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Miami Heat, ranks fourth at $45.8 million and was the top-earning player in the National Basketball Association.

A-Rod Is Fifth

Alex Rodriguez of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees is fifth with $37 million, including $33 million in salary. His endorsements dropped by about $2 million last year, according to SI.

NBA players Shaquille O’Neal ($36 million) and Kobe Bryant ($33 million) rank sixth and seventh, followed by the Yankees’ Derek Jeter ($31 million).

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was the top- earning National Football League player at $30.8 million, while Dwyane Wade of the Heat rounds out SI.com’s top-10 at $27.8 million.

Sports Illustrated uses data from the current or most recently completed basketball and baseball seasons, and the coming 2010 season for the NFL. Winnings for individual sports, such as golf, tennis and auto racing, are from 2009. All endorsement and appearance income is for this year.

Tennis player Roger Federer tops SI.com’s list of top- earning athletes from outside the U.S. with $61.8 million. He’s followed by soccer players Lionel Messi ($44 million), David Beckham ($40.5 million) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($40 million), and boxer Manny Pacquiao ($38 million).

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

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