Drew Brees had a monster season in 2011. A remarkable, record-breaking on-field performance—combined with $16 million in earnings and such off-field strengths as public appeal—pushed the New Orleans Saints quarterback to the top spot in this year’s Power 100 ranking of the most powerful athletes. Following Brees were the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, New England Patriot’s Tom Brady, Miami Heat basketball forward LeBron James, and tennis champion Rafael Nadal. The ranking was developed by CSE, an integrated sports and marketing firm in Atlanta, and Horrow Sports Ventures. In addition to 2011 on-field metrics, total earnings, and social media presence, the ranking incorporates such off-field metrics as athletes’ name and face awareness, appeal, influence, and trustworthiness using Nielsen/E-Poll N-Score data from Encino, Calif.-based research company E-Poll Market Research. The ranking comprises only professional athletes playing in the United States. Coaches, executives, owners, agents, and athletes who retired before the 2011 calendar year were not considered. Only regular season statistics were used.

Click here to see the complete 2012 Power 100.

Photograph by: Patrik Giardino

Drew Brees had a monster season in 2011. A remarkable, record-breaking on-field performance—combined with $16 million in earnings and such off-field strengths as public appeal—pushed the New Orleans Saints quarterback to the top spot in this year’s Power 100 ranking of the most powerful athletes. Following Brees were the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, New England Patriot’s Tom Brady, Miami Heat basketball forward LeBron James, and tennis champion Rafael Nadal. The ranking was developed by CSE, an integrated sports and marketing firm in Atlanta, and Horrow Sports Ventures. In addition to 2011 on-field metrics, total earnings, and social media presence, the ranking incorporates such off-field metrics as athletes’ name and face awareness, appeal, influence, and trustworthiness using Nielsen/E-Poll N-Score data from Encino, Calif.-based research company E-Poll Market Research. The ranking comprises only professional athletes playing in the United States. Coaches, executives, owners, agents, and athletes who retired before the 2011 calendar year were not considered. Only regular season statistics were used.

Click here to see the complete 2012 Power 100.

Photograph by: Patrik Giardino

Power 100 2012

Quarterbacks Top Ranking of Most Powerful Athletes
Quarterbacks Top Ranking of Most Powerful Athletes

Drew Brees had a monster season in 2011. A remarkable, record-breaking on-field performance—combined with $16 million in earnings and such off-field strengths as public appeal—pushed the New Orleans Saints quarterback to the top spot in this year’s Power 100 ranking of the most powerful athletes. Following Brees were the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, New England Patriot’s Tom Brady, Miami Heat basketball forward LeBron James, and tennis champion Rafael Nadal. The ranking was developed by CSE, an integrated sports and marketing firm in Atlanta, and Horrow Sports Ventures. In addition to 2011 on-field metrics, total earnings, and social media presence, the ranking incorporates such off-field metrics as athletes’ name and face awareness, appeal, influence, and trustworthiness using Nielsen/E-Poll N-Score data from Encino, Calif.-based research company E-Poll Market Research. The ranking comprises only professional athletes playing in the United States. Coaches, executives, owners, agents, and athletes who retired before the 2011 calendar year were not considered. Only regular season statistics were used.

Click here to see the complete 2012 Power 100.

Photograph by: Patrik Giardino

Drew Brees
Drew Brees
Power 100 rank*: 1
Rank last year*: 7
Sport: NFL/New Orleans Saints—QB
Age*: 33
Most recent notable achievement: Set NFL single-season passing record in 2011
Earnings*: $16,000,000
Key sponsors*: Nike, Verizon, Vicks, Advocare

Why he’s on the list: Drew Brees crushed 27 years of NFL history with a new, monster passing record in 2011 (5,476 passing yards), just two seasons after he was named AP Male Athlete of the Year and won Super Bowl XLIV. Apart from record-breaking on-field performance—he’s the only quarterback to ever log two seasons with more than 5,000 yards—Brees is also a family man, photogenic, loved by marketers, and far more recognizable than second-place Aaron Rodgers.

* On all slides, this data was provided by Horrow Sports Ventures and CSE

Photograph by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers
Power 100 rank: 2
Rank last year: 35
Sport: NFL/Green Bay Packers—QB
Age: 28
Most recent notable achievement: Super Bowl XLV winner and MVP
Earnings: $19,000,000
Key sponsors: State Farm, Nike, General Mills, Associated Bank

Why he’s on the list: Unranked on the Power 100 in 2010, Aaron Rodgers burst onto the sports scene with back-to-back seasons that include winning MVP of Super Bowl XLV last year and the highest-passer rating (122.5) in NFL history this season. The big endorsements have followed, with high-profile State Farm ads that are either annoying or cute, depending on your perspective.

Photograph by Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Power 100 rank: 3
Rank last year: 5
Sport: NFL/New England Patriots—QB
Age: 34
Most recent notable achievement: No. 2 single-season passing record in 2011
Earnings: $28,000,000
Key sponsors: Under Armour, Audi, UGG, Stetson Cologne

Why he’s on the list: Brady had what would have been an unparalleled year by breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year-old passing record, only to have the achievement eclipsed by Drew Brees (No. 1 on our list), who passed for 241 more yards. Brady must remain content with three Super Bowl rings, a shot at a fourth, and other accolades that include twice being named MVP by the Associated Press. His baby face has made him attractive for big endorsements on everything from water to boots to cowboy hats.

Photograph by Elsa/Getty Images
LeBron James
LeBron James
Power 100 rank: 4
Rank last year: 11
Sport: NBA/Miami Heat—F
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: 2009 and 2010 NBA MVP
Earnings: $61,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Sprite, McDonald’s, Audemars Piguet

Why he’s on the list: Maybe it was the pressure of “the Decision.” King James averaged 26.7 points per game during the regular season, but dropped to 17.8 points per game in the NBA finals, during Miami’s defeat by the Dallas Mavericks in what James called a “personal failure.” The controversy around his free agency signing after back-to-back MVP years made him both beloved and notorious. The sponsors appear to be betting that James will be back in the NBA Finals.

Photograph by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Power 100 rank: 5
Rank last year: 16
Sport: Tennis
Age: 25
Most recent notable achievement: Won 2011 French Open
Earnings: $21,700,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Kia, Armani, Babolat

Why he’s on the list: “Rafa” headed into 2011 facing the possibility of holding all four Grand Slams, nicknamed the Rafa Slam. He was knocked out in the quarters of the Australian Open and his dominance was later tempered by Novak Djokovic’s surge in the finals of the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. Still, Nadal showed continued mastering of clay by taking his sixth victory at the French Open. He’s still young, good-looking, and beloved by marketers, with much more to come.

Photograph by Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Roger Federer
Roger Federer
Power 100 rank: 6
Rank last year: 15
Sport: Tennis
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: Won Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2011
Earnings: $40,700,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Gillette, Rolex, Wilson, Credit Suisse

Why he’s on the list: Now ranked third in the world, Roger Federer may be entering the twilight of his career. He remains a force. Although 2011 was the first year he did not win a Grand Slam tournament since 2002, Federer ended Novak Djokovic’s (No. 9 on our list) perfect season and made the finals of the French Open. He’s recognizable and forever branded as a winner, with 16 Grand Slam titles to his name.

Photograph by Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images
Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal
Power 100 rank: 7
Rank last year: 6
Sport: NBA/Boston Celtics—C
Age: 39
Most recent notable achievement: 2009 NBA All-Star (15th Selection)
Earnings: $13,500,000
Key sponsors: Vitamin Water, Burger King, Kraft, Pepsi

Why he’s on the list: Shaq announced his retirement last year with a short video on Twitter that started out, “We did it. Nineteen years baby.” Through that time, he earned four NBA Championship rings, 15 all-star selections, and endless other accolades. Key to Shaq’s No. 1 ranking for off-field attributes is his out-sized personality and willingness to have fun at his own expense. He has conducted the Boston Pops and once appeared on Saturday Night Live singing with Will Ferrell. Most recently Shaq was played in an SNL skit by a mumbling, bearded Charles Barkley. It was a parody of Shaq’s latest gig, which gets him back into the game as an NBA commentator for TNT.

Photograph by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
Shaun White
Shaun White
Power 100 rank: 8
Rank last year: 2
Sport: Snowboarding, skateboarding
Age: 25
Most recent notable achievement: Two 2011 X Games gold medals
Earnings: $8,500,000
Key sponsors: Burton, Target, Oakley, Ubisoft, Stride

Why he’s on the list: It wasn’t a Winter Olympics year but White stayed in the headlines. After a fourth straight victory in the superpipe at the Winter X Games, Shaun White also took gold in the skateboarding vert at the Summer X Games. Now among the most recognizable people on the planet, White is the face of alternative and cool.

Photograph by Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
Power 100 rank: 9
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Tennis
Age: 24
Most recent notable achievement: 10 ATP titles in 2011
Earnings: $21,000,000
Key sponsors: Mercedes‐Benz, Sergio Tacchini, Head, Audemars Piguet

Why he’s on the list: The top newcomer on the Power 100 this year, Novak Djokovic is the upstart youngster who claimed the top spot in the world tennis rankings after seven years of either Federer or Nadal in the lead. The Serb beat both on his way to winning three majors, finishing with a 70-6 record, and logging 43 straight victories, broken in a now-classic game with Federer. He is quickly moving beyond sponsors such as Telekom Srbija.

Photograph by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images
Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson
Power 100 rank: 10
Rank last year: 50
Sport: NFL/Detroit Lions—WR
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NFL Receiving yards leader
Earnings: $13,000,000
Key sponsors: Acura, Nike

Why he’s on the list: Calvin Johnson, nicknamed “Megatron,” led the Detroit Lions to their first playoff berth since 1999, with 16 touchdowns and 1,681 receiving yards (a career high and more than any player in the 2011 regular season). In a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints, Johnson set a Wild Card record with 211 receiving yards. A Pro Bowl selection in 2011 and 2012, he may be the best-known wide receiver in football today.

Photograph by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Luke Donald
Luke Donald
Power 100 rank: 11
Rank last year: 87
Sport: Golf
Age: 34
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 PGA Tour Player of the Year
Earnings: $25,500,000
Key sponsors: Mizuno, Polo Ralph Lauren, RBC

Why he’s on the list: Slow and steady wins the race. Donald hasn’t placed better than third in a major since 2006 and he’s never won a major. In 2011, he became the first golfer in history to top the money list of the PGA and the European Tour in the same year. The stats tell the story of his steadiness and skill at the short game. Among the few areas in which he leads the PGA is 3-putt avoidance. If he could win a few majors, his profile would surely rise into the Power 100 top 10, though he might just be too steady.

Photograph by William West/AFP/Getty Images
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Power 100 rank: 12
Rank last year: 3
Sport: PGA Tour
Age: 36
Most recent notable achievement: Won 2011 Chevron World Challenge
Earnings: $60,600,000
Key sponsors: Nike, EA Sports, Fuse Science, Rolex

Why he’s on the list: Once the most marketable sportsman in the U.S., Tiger has endured two years of turmoil on and off the course. Last year, he notched career-low earnings of $660,238 on the PGA Tour, at 135th on the money list. In December, he won a tournament (not a PGA event) to break his 749-day winning drought. The big question is whether the win signals a comeback or a last gasp. While he remains marketable, it’s nothing like the glory days.

Photograph by Robert Meggers/Getty Images
Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant
Power 100 rank: 13
Rank last year: 14
Sport: NBA/Los Angeles Lakers—SG
Age: 33
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 All-Star MVP
Earnings: $35,200,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Turkish Airlines, Vitamin Water, Nubeo

Why he’s on the list: Bryant is a living legend of basketball, with five NBA Championships, 13 All-Star appearances, and last year, his fourth all-star MVP selection. Off-the-court, Bryant was troubled with well-publicized issues in his private life that flared up in divorce proceedings. Still, he coaxed sponsors back to life after rape allegations in 2003 and today he is represented by companies as varied as Nike and Turkish Airlines.

Photograph by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard
Power 100 rank: 14
Rank last year: 27
Sport: NBA/Orlando Magic—C
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: 2009, 2010, 2011 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
Earnings: $29,800,000
Key sponsors: Adidas, McDonalds, AirTran Airways, Electronic Arts

Why he’s on the list: It’s no wonder this 6 foot, 11 inch center for the Magic is called superman. He’s a rebounding machine who has been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year three straight times. His on-court prowess is matched with his church-going nature and philanthropy. Family-oriented McDonald’s and other big sponsors love him.

Photograph by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Eli Manning
Eli Manning
Power 100 rank: 15
Rank last year: 17
Sport: NFL/New York Giants—QB
Age: 31
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl (2nd selection)
Earnings: $22,000,000
Key sponsors: Reebok, Citizen Watch, Oreo, Toyota

Why he’s on the list: Eli had the best regular season of his career in 2011 and led the Giants back to the Super Bowl. It seems like a long time since Manning’s heart-stopping, last-second performance in Super Bowl XLII but he’s proven his worth under pressure. Sponsors love his boyish looks.

Photograph by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade
Power 100 rank: 16
Rank last year: 20
Sport: NBA/Miami Heat—G
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 All-Star (6th Selection)
Earnings: $30,500,000
Key sponsors: Jordan Brand, Hublot, Gatorade, Pepperidge Farm, Mission Skincare, T-Mobile, The Collection

Why he’s on the list: The “Flash” had another solid year in 2011, with Miami seemingly on its way to a second NBA Championship. But the dream-team trio with Chris Bosh and LeBron James couldn’t defeat the Mavericks in the finals. The good news: D-Wade remains likeable, recognizable, and likely to return to the finals.

(An earlier version of this caption incorrectly listed some of Wade's sponsors.)

Photograph by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant
Power 100 rank: 17
Rank last year: 25
Sport: NBA/Oklahoma City Thunder—F
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: 2010, 2011 NBA scoring champion
Earnings: $21,600,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Gatorade, EA Sports, Degree Men

Why he’s on the list: This young superstar-in-the-making has notched two seasons as the NBA’s top scorer and led Oklahoma to back-to-back playoff berths. He signed with Nike shortly after the draft and has been courted by other blue chip companies ever since.

Photograph by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
Power 100 rank: 18
Rank last year: 4
Sport: PGA Tour
Age: 41
Most recent notable achievement: Second at 2011 Open Championship
Earnings: $53,700,000
Key sponsors: Barclays, Callaway, ExxonMobil, KPMG, Rolex

Why he’s on the list: It’s nearly impossible to follow a year in which Mickelson granted sports lovers the heart-warming thrill of watching him win his third Masters. Perhaps it’s fitting that he was recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, to be inducted in May 2012. He’s still a contender, with the mojo for a few more majors in him.

Photograph by Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood
Power 100 rank: 19
Rank last year: 21
Sport: PGA Tour
Age: 38
Most recent notable achievement: Third at 2011 U.S. Open
Earnings: $15,200,000
Key sponsors: UPS, Dunlop, Jaguar, Titleist, Audemars Piguet

Why he’s on the list: Ranked second in World Golf Rankings as of publication time, Lee Westwood pulled in nearly $1 million in winnings on the PGA Tour this year. He didn’t notch any wins but plays with a steady assurance. Though the majors remain out of reach, endorsements are flowing like a fire hose.

Photograph by Pornchai Kittlwongsakul/AFP/Getty Images
Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu
Power 100 rank: 20
Rank last year: 45
Sport: NFL/Pittsburgh Steelers—SS
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl (7th Selection)
Earnings: $15,500,000
Key sponsors: Head & Shoulders, Coca‐Cola

Why he’s on the list: Troy Polamalu has lovely, long locks insured by Head & Shoulders for $1 million. It’s all part of a long and successful ad campaign that turned this defensive genius into a somewhat unlikely shampoo spokesman and one of the most recognizable players in the NFL. Polamolecules, dude.

Photograph by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Power 100 rank: 21
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: PGA Tour
Age: 22
Most recent notable achievement: Won 2011 U.S. Open
Earnings: $17,200,000
Key sponsors: Jumeirah, Oakley, Audemars Piguet, Santander

Why he’s on the list: The U.S. Open showed that McIlroy is capable of complete domination. The rest of the field could do little more than watch as he won by eight strokes and broke the U.S. Open record by four strokes. If the results portend those in years to come, Rory McIlroy will become a household name. At just 22, there’s plenty of time for that. To boot, his well-publicized relationship with tennis phenom Caroline Wozniacki could double-down the sponsorship opportunities for the superstar duo.

Photograph by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Power 100 rank: 22
Rank last year: 42
Sport: Nascar
Age: 37
Most recent notable achievement: Won Nascar’s most popular driver award 2011
Earnings: $24,100,000
Key sponsors: Amp Energy, National Guard, TaxSlayer, Wrangler

Why he’s on the list: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins big on the family name but not at the same level of his father when it comes to the elusive Sprint Cup Championship. (Dale Earnhardt won seven back when it was called the Winston Cup Series.) He had four top-five finishes last season but hasn’t had a win since the Subway Jalapeño 250 in 2010.

Photograph by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Arian Foster
Arian Foster
Power 100 rank: 23
Rank last year: 22
Sport: NFL/Houston Texans—RB
Age: 25
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl (2nd Selection)
Earnings: $2,500,000
Key sponsors: Fuse Science, Boombah, Subway

Why he’s on the list: Arian Foster followed a breakout second season in the NFL with a lesser performance as he struggled with early injuries. He still finished fifth in the league for rushing and showed his mettle posting big yards in the post-season. The biggest sponsors have yet to catch up. They will.

Photograph by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki
Power 100 rank: 24
Rank last year: 66
Sport: NBA/Dallas Mavericks—F
Age: 33
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA Finals MVP
Earnings: $24,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, EA Sports

Why he’s on the list: It was the heart-warming sports miracle of the year when 13-year league veteran Dirk Nowitzki led an unlikely Dallas Mavericks team to its first NBA Championship. He battled through a 101-degree fever and a finger injury that might have sidelined lesser competitors. Nowitzki has few endorsements and doesn’t have an agent. He told Bloomberg Television: “I always wanted to be a basketball player. Nothing more, nothing less. … I have never really considered myself to be a ‘brand.’ Sure there are a few things that I wouldn’t mind endorsing and maybe some day it will work out. For now, I am happy with where I am.”

Photograph by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images
Serena Williams
Serena Williams
Power 100 rank: 25
Rank last year: 18
Sport: Tennis
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: Runner-up in 2011 U.S. Open
Earnings: $17,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Wilson, HP, Mission Skincare, Kraft

Why she’s on the list: Though Serena struggled with injuries last year, she managed to make it to the finals of the U.S. Open, a tournament she first won at age 17, in 1999. During her career, she has won 27 Grand Slam titles and two Olympic gold medals, among just a few of her on-court achievements. She also maintains a high profile off the court with her own collection of handbags, guest-star spots on television, a stake in the Miami Dolphins, and charity work.

Photograph by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images
Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols
Power 100 rank: 26
Rank last year: 9
Sport: MLB/Los Angeles Angels—1B
Age: 32
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 World Series Champion (St. Louis Cardinals)
Earnings: $24,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Rawlings, AT&T

Why he’s on the list: The top baseball player on the Power 100 this year, Albert Pujols wasn’t named an all-star in 2011 but did claim a second World Series ring. He signed a 10-year contract with the Angels in December worth a reported $254 million that takes him away from St. Louis, where he spent his career as one of the top players in the game and an active member of the community.

Photograph by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson
Power 100 rank: 27
Rank last year: 33
Sport: NFL/Minnesota Vikings—RB
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: Pro Bowl MVP 2011
Earnings: $14,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, CytoSport

Why he’s on the list: A masterful running back, “Purple Jesus” would be higher on our list were it not for a tough couple of years. This is the first year that A.D. has rushed for fewer than 1,000 yards. Moreover, he tore two ligaments in his knee during a December game, making it unclear if he’ll be ready for the 2012 season. He’s recognizable and fun to watch, but other running backs are quickly filling in the top spots above him.

Photograph by Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao
Power 100 rank: 28
Rank last year: 24
Sport: Boxing
Age: 33
Most recent notable achievement: Beat Sugar Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez
Earnings: $50,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Hewlett Packard, Hennessy

Why he’s on the list: The most Web-searched athlete in 2011, according to Google, Pacman the Destroyer holds world championships in eight different weight divisions. Controversy may have helped fuel the Internet interest as Pacquiao was booed after a close win against Juan Manuel Marquez and endless talk that Pacquiao might fight Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiao is also a Philippine politician and singer who has become more recognizable in recent years with new high-profile commercials such as those for the HP TouchPad.

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon
Power 100 rank: 29
Rank last year: 39
Sport: Nascar
Age: 40
Most recent notable achievement: Third on all-time wins list
Earnings: $18,750,000
Key sponsors: AARP, DuPont, Pepsi, General Motors

Why he’s on the list: Gordon had a great year, with three wins during the season and a string of 11 top 10 finishes in the last 14 races. His 85th win pushed him to third on the all-time win list and the most in the Nascar modern era. It looked like he had a shot at his fifth Sprint Cup Series win, but his top 10 finish surely won’t hurt his already immense marketability.

Photograph by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose
Power 100 rank: 30
Rank last year: 99
Sport: NBA/Chicago Bulls—PG
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA MVP
Earnings: $10,000,000
Key sponsors: Adidas, Powerade, Wilson, Force Factor

Why he’s on the list: The youngest player to be named league MVP by the NBA, Derrick Rose is quickly making a name for himself. He’s so good that there is a salary-cap exemption named for him (the Derrick Rose Rule), which the Chicago Bulls used in a $94.8 million, five-year contract extension that Rose signed in December.

Photograph by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun
Power 100 rank: 31
Rank last year: 70
Sport: MLB/Milwaukee Brewers—LF
Age: 28
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 National League MVP
Earnings: $5,500,000
Key sponsors: CytoSport, Nike, Wilson, AirTran Airways

Why he’s on the list: After an incredible season that saw him named National League MVP, the “Hebrew Hammer” reportedly tested positive for banned substances. He faces a 50-game suspension in 2012 if he is found guilty by an arbitration panel.

Photograph by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Matt Kemp
Matt Kemp
Power 100 rank: 32
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: MLB/Los Angeles Dodgers—CF
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NL Home Run and RBI Champion
Earnings: $8,500,000
Key sponsors: Easton, Nike

Why he’s on the list: Matt Kemp, “the Bison,” led the National League in home runs and RBIs, stole base 40 times, and achieved the major leagues’s seventh-highest batting average. He earned his second Silver Slugger award and second Gold Glove in 2011, as well as the Hank Aaron Award given to the top hitter in each league.

Photograph by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova
Power 100 rank: 33
Rank last year: 83
Sport: Tennis
Age: 24
Most recent notable achievement: Fourth in WTA World Ranking
Earnings: $23,800,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Tiffany & Co., TAG Heuer, Head, Evian, Cole Haan

Why she’s on the list: Maria Sharapova moved up to fourth in the world rankings in 2011 based on performances that echoed past dominance. Her top finish was at Wimbledon, where she made it to the finals but lost in straight sets to Petra Kvitová. Sharapova really shines in off-court activities, where her striking good looks have won spots modeling for sports and fashion lines alike.

Photograph by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps
Power 100 rank: 34
Rank last year: 12
Sport: Swimming
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: Seven medals at the 2011 World Championships
Earnings: $5,250,000
Key sponsors: Visa, Subway

Why he’s on the list: Americans have a tough time paying attention to swimming when it’s not an Olympic year, but Phelps remains in the public eye after his record-breaking eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It’s likely that his commercials for Subway were viewed more times than his seven medal-winning performances at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships. Sponsors will continue to adore Phelps up through the 2012 Olympics, which he has said will likely be his last.

Photograph by Adam Pretty/Getty Images
Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin
Power 100 rank: 35
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NBA/ Los Angeles Clippers—F
Age: 22
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year
Earnings: $12,000,000
Key sponsors: Kia Motors, Vizio, Nike, Subway, AT&T

Why he’s on the list: After sitting out what was supposed to be his rookie season with a broken kneecap, Blake Griffin last year burst into the NBA with monster dunks and record-breaking numbers. He became the first rookie to play in the all-star game since Yao Ming in 2003 and, perhaps not surprisingly, won the Slam Dunk Contest. Endorsements have followed his skyrocketing popularity.

Photograph by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Michael Turner
Michael Turner
Power 100 rank: 36
Rank last year: 61
Sport: NFL/Atlanta Falcons—RB
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NFC Rushing Leader
Earnings: $7,750,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Sigvaris

Why he’s on the list: Michael Turner ended the last two seasons in third place in the NFL for rushing yards. He is steadily proving that he is one of the top running backs in the game. The endorsements haven’t caught up to his power, but they should.

Photograph by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson
Power 100 rank: 37
Rank last year: 23
Sport: Nascar
Age: 36
Most recent notable achievement: 2010 Sprint Cup Series Champion
Earnings: $16,100,000
Key sponsors: Lowe’s, Kobalt Tools, Siemens

Why he’s on the list: Jimmie Johnson didn’t win his sixth consecutive Nascar Sprint Cup Series championship in 2011, but he posted a solid year with two Nascar wins and 14 finishes in the top five. With his place in Nascar history secure, he’s definitely not done. That’s why sponsors pay him the big bucks.

Photograph by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera
Power 100 rank: 38
Rank last year: 44
Sport: MLB/Detroit Tigers—1B
Age: 28
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 All-Star (6th Selection)
Earnings: $21,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Wilson

Why he’s on the list: Cabrera helped lead the Tigers to the American League Championship Series with the top batting average in the Major League last year. He has been in the news for numerous alcohol-related arrests, including a drunk driving arrest last February. The issues appear to be hurting his chances for big sponsors.

Photograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Maurice Jones-Drew
Maurice Jones-Drew
Power 100 rank: 39
Rank last year: 92
Sport: NFL/Jacksonville Jaguars—RB
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl (3rd Selection)
Earnings: $9,500,000
Key sponsors: Reebok, SiriusXM, EA Sports
Why he’s on the list: Maurice Jones-Drew is an explosive, pint-sized, 5 feet, 7 inches tall, with all the moves to dodge the behemoths. He carried the Jaguars in 2011 with his league-leading 1,606 yards, accounting for 39 percent of the total offensive yards for the team. He remains popular off the field with his own fantasy football radio show on SiriusXM.

Photograph by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki
Power 100 rank: 40
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Tennis
Age: 21
Most recent notable achievement: Finished 2011 ranked No. 1 on WTA Tour
Earnings: $12,000,000
Key sponsors: Adidas, Yonex, Turkish Airlines, Oriflame

Why she’s on the list: Caroline Wozniacki was the top-ranked player on the WTA Tour, until Kim Clijsters beat her at the Australian Open. Wozniacki still hasn’t won a Grand Slam tournament. She did make the finals of the U.S. Open in 2009 and the semifinals of both the U.S. Open and Australian Open last year. She’s gorgeous, marketable, and dating golfing upstart Rory McIlroy for a great match off the court.

Photograph by Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images
Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald
Power 100 rank: 41
Rank last year: 43
Sport: NFL/Arizona Cardinals—WR
Age: 28
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl (6th Selection)
Earnings: $21,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, AT&T, EAS

Why he’s on the list: Larry Fitzgerald notched his fourth season receiving more than 1,400 yards. He continues to make spectacular plays, despite the Cardinals quarterback problems. In response, the Cardinals showed Fitzgerald the money, with a reported eight-year, $120 million contract.

Photograph by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay
Power 100 rank: 42
Rank last year: 30
Sport: MLB/Philadelphia Phillies—P
Age: 34
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 All-Star (8th Selection)
Earnings: $21,500,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: Roy Halladay finished second in Cy Young voting in 2011 for what would have been his third award. It’s hard for him to top the year he had in 2010, when he pitched a perfect game in May and Major League Baseball’s second no-hitter in postseason history in October.

Photograph byMatt Slocum-Pool/Getty Images
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Power 100 rank: 43
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Detroit Lions—QB
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: 5,000-plus passing yards in 2011
Earnings: $18,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Power Balance, Blue Cross Blue Shield

Why he’s on the list: Matthew Stafford is now the fourth quarterback in NFL history to log more than 5,000 passing yards in a regular season. Despite that feat, 41 touchdowns and a rating of 97.2, Stafford was passed over for the Pro Bowl. He’s still young, so we expect more from him if he can stay healthy. He’ll also need to keep the aggression in check and stay away from brawls like the one that saw him fined $7,500 during a game with the Bears in November.

Photograph by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ray Rice
Ray Rice
Power 100 rank: 44
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Baltimore Ravens—RB
Age: 24
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 Pro Bowl (2nd Selection)
Earnings: $1,500,000
Key sponsors: RipFire, Nike

Why he’s on the list: Ray Rice often looks like the little guy on the field, at just 5 feet, 8 inches tall, but he weighs in at 212 pounds and packs a punch with speed. Rice led the NFL last year in combined rushing and receiving yards. Sponsors are beginning to take note.

Photograph by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez
Power 100 rank: 45
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: MLB/Boston Red Sox—1B
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 All-Star (4th Selection)
Earnings: $9,500,000
Key sponsors: Dunkin’ Donuts, Eastern Bank, Nike

Why he’s on the list: He may be Boston’s next top sports hero if he keeps performing like he did in 2011. He garnered his third Gold Glove Award, had the second-highest batting average in the majors, and notched more runs than any other player. The Red Sox reportedly signed Gonzalez to a $154 million deal through the 2018 season.

Photograph by David Banks/Getty Images
Chris Paul
Chris Paul
Power 100 rank: 46
Rank last year: 78
Sport: NBA/Los Angeles Clippers—PG
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star (4th Selection)
Earnings: $19,000,000
Key sponsors: Powerade, Nike, Sheets Brand, PBA Tour

Why he’s on the list: Traded from the Hornets to the Clippers, “CP3” is making an explosive duo with Blake Griffin (No. 35). Paul provides the lob passes for Griffin’s soaring dunks. Both are still young, so we expect much from the new hot ticket in Los Angeles.

Photograph by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Charles Woodson
Charles Woodson
Power 100 rank: 47
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Green Bay Packers—CB
Age: 35
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl (8th Selection)
Earnings: $10,500,000
Key sponsors: TwentyFour Wines, Nike

Why he’s on the list: Heisman winner and Super Bowl champion Charles Woodson has logged an impressive defensive career in the NFL, with more than 50 interceptions. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year after the 2009 season, and was a key component of the Packers’ drive to the championship a year ago. At 35, he’s still going strong, with his fourth Pro Bowl season in a row.

Photograph by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt
Power 100 rank: 48
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Running
Age: 25
Most recent notable achievement: Two Gold Medals at the 2011 World Championships
Earnings: $6,000,000
Key sponsors: Puma, Gatorade, Digicel

Why he’s on the list: Usain Bolt has the perfect name for a sprinting superstar. The reigning Olympic champion at the 100- and 200-meter races, as well as a member of Jamaica’s 4×100 relay team, Usain St. Leo Bolt also holds either the legal or world records in these distances. The Jamaican is laid-back, fun, and photogenic, perfect for endorsements that have been flowing like rich, flavorful gravy.

Photograph by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Power 100 rank: 49
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Boxing
Age: 34
Most recent notable achievement: WBC welterweight title
Earnings: $40,000,000
Key sponsors: SMS Audio

Why he’s on the list: Unbeaten in his professional boxing career, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has won six world boxing championships in five different weight classes. He’s recently drummed up a lot of attention for calling on eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao to fight him. If Pacquiao accepts, it will have to wait until Mayweather finishes an 87-day jail sentence for pleading guilty to domestic violence battery and harassment charges.

Photograph by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
Power 100 rank: 50
Rank last year: 85
Sport: NFL/Atlanta Falcons—QB
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 Pro Bowl
Earnings: $16,000,000
Key sponsors: AirTran Airways, Nike

Why he’s on the list: From his first pass in the NFL—a 62-yard touchdown—Matt Ryan has been threatening to break into the NFL quarterback elite. This latest season saw his yards passing go up, to an Atlanta Falcons’ franchise record 4,177, though his interceptions also rose. He earned a ticket to his first Pro Bowl in 2011, but will have his work cut out catching up with the Breeses and Bradys of the league.

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning
Power 100 rank: 51
Rank last year: 1
Sport: NFL/Indianapolis Colts—QB
Age: 35
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 Pro Bowl (11th selection)
Earnings: $29,000,000
Key sponsors: Sony, Gatorade, MasterCard

Why he’s on the list: A neck injury sidelined Peyton Manning at the absolute peak of his career and there is a possibility it will keep him off the field even longer. He’s marketable, recognizable, and down-to-earth–all qualities that, along with his masterful on-field performance, landed Manning atop our 2011 list. But last season he didn’t play football. Now, with the Colts apparently poised to draft a new hot college quarterback, Andrew Luck of Stanford, it’s up in the air whether Manning will play for the Colts next year–or for anyone.

Photograph by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson
Power 100 rank: 52
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: MLB/New York Yankees—CF
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series, 2011 Silver Slugger
Earnings: $9,000,000
Key sponsors: Phiten, Nike, Rawlings

Why he’s on the list: Last year, Curtis Granderson had one of the best seasons of his career, hitting 41 home runs during the regular season. Despite lots of talk about Granderson’s shot at being named the American League MVP, the honor went to the Detroit Tigers’s Justin Verlander. (Read about Verlander on the next slide.) One of Major League Baseball’s most liked players, Granderson is active in the community with his charitable foundation.

Photograph by Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images
Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander
Power 100 rank: 53
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: MLB/Detroit Tigers—SP
Age: 28
Most recent notable achievement: The first starting pitcher in 25 years to win the Most Valuable Player
Earnings: $15,500,000
Key sponsors: Reebok, Rawlings, 2k Sports, Phiten

Why he’s on the list: Verlander led Detroit to the AL Central title with 24 wins and a career-high 251 innings pitched. With the ability to routinely hit triple digits on the radar gun, Verlander threw a no-hitter last season and led the league in strikeouts. He’s also on the cover of Major League Baseball’s 2K12 video game.

Photograph by Harry How/Getty Images
Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett
Power 100 rank: 54
Rank last year: 47
Sport: NBA/Boston Celtics—F
Age: 35
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star
Earnings: $31,200,000
Key sponsors: Anta, Zico

Why he’s on the list: The biggest in stature of Boston’s Big Three (which includes Paul Pierce and Ray Allen), Kevin Garnett has slipped noticeably from his performance as the inside scoring and rebounding machine that sparked the Celtics’s 2007 championship run—and brought him deals with Chinese sportswear company Anta and coconut water seller Zico. Lingering goodwill for Garnett’s contribution to one of the NBA’s storied franchises accounts for his still-impressive ranking. Garnett’s contract is up after this season, which may lead to a new address or reduced pay to stay in Boston.

Photograph by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan
Power 100 rank: 55
Rank last year: 40
Sport: Soccer
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: Scored the game winner in the Galaxy’s 1-0 MLS Cup final against the Houston Dynamo
Earnings: $7,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Gatorade, Seiko, EA Sports

Why he’s on the list: The top scorer in U.S. soccer history, Donovan led the U.S. to a win over Algeria with a stunning follow-up kick in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Photograph by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire
Power 100 rank: 56
Rank last year: 58
Sport: NBA/New York Knicks—F
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star
Earnings: $20,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Sheets Brand

Why he’s on the list: A perennial All-Star, Amar’e Stoudemire came to New York from Phoenix on a $100 million contract in 2010, promising to return the city to its former basketball glory. That hasn’t quite happened yet, and it’s still undecided whether Stoudemire and fellow recruit and superstar Carmelo Anthony (No. 75) can deliver. In this strike-shortened season, Stoudemire’s scoring has slipped—to 17.6 points per game as of publication—and the Knicks have struggled.

Photograph by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Patrick Willis
Patrick Willis
Power 100 rank: 57
Rank last year: 53
Sport: NFL/San Francisco 49ers—LB
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, NFC
Earnings: $10,750,000
Key sponsors: K‐Swiss

Why he’s on the list: Widely regarded as the best inside linebacker in the NFL (and among the best-paid), Patrick Willis led the resurgent 49ers into the playoffs this year for the first time since 2002. His reputation as a big hitter makes him the heir apparent to league intimidator Ray Lewis, a role that Willis leveraged in some funny videos with actor Danny McBride for his sponsor, shoemaker K-Swiss.

Photograph by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
David Beckham
David Beckham
Power 100 rank: 58
Rank last year: 19
Sport: Soccer
Age: 36
Most recent notable achievement: Helped the LA Galaxy win the MLS Cup in November 2011, giving Beckham a third national title playing in three nations
Earnings: $27,000,000
Key sponsors: Adidas, Coty, EA Sports

Why he’s on the list: Beckham remains the most prominent face of soccer in the U.S., as well as an international celebrity whose popularity has crossed over to the worlds of fashion, film, and music.

Photograph by George Tiedemann/Corbis
LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy
Power 100 rank: 59
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Philadelphia Eagles—RB
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, NFC
Earnings: $1,250,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: The Eagles were sold as 2011’s “Dream Team,” based on a flurry of big-name off-season signings. The team fizzled on the field, finishing with as many losses as wins, but LeSean McCoy held up his end of the bargain. He made a name as a speedy breakaway back, with 14 runs of 20 yards or more and a league-high 17 rushing touchdowns. The result: McCoy’s first-ever Pro Bowl berth.

Photograph by Nick Laham/Getty Images
Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
Power 100 rank: 60
Rank last year: 62
Sport: Nascar
Age: 40
Most recent notable achievement: Won five Sprint Cup Series races in 2011 and his third Sprint Cup championship
Earnings: $15,200,000
Key sponsors: Office Depot, Mobil 1, Coca-Cola, Burger King

Why he’s on the list: An Indiana native, Stewart is one of the rare team owner-drivers in Nascar. His competitiveness in 2011—to the point of edging out Carl Edwards for the Sprint Cup Championship in a tiebreaker—was one factor in Nascar’s improving television ratings.

Photograph by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared Allen
Jared Allen
Power 100 rank: 61
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Minnesota Vikings—DE
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, NFC
Earnings: $11,750,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: If the NFL revolves around its superstar quarterbacks, not far behind in the football hierarchy are the highly paid men who chase the passers. Jared Allen is the current king of those pass-rushing specialists. His 22 quarterback sacks last year doubled his previous year’s total and nearly beat Michael Strahan’s league record of 22.5. A noted free spirit, Allen channeled his calf-roping days for a signature sack dance and says he’d like to turn to the rodeo when he retires.

Photograph by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards
Power 100 rank: 62
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Nascar
Age: 32
Most recent notable achievement: Took second at the Ford 400 race in November 2011 at Homestead-Miami
Earnings: $13,200,000
Key sponsors: Aflac, Scott’s, Subway, Avon

Why he’s on the list: Sports writers describe 2011 as a “consistent” season for Carl Edwards. He recorded the best average finish in Chase history at 4.9, according to sbnation.com. Edwards may have lost his first Nascar Sprint Cup Series championship to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker in November, but he won praise for his sportsmanship.

Photograph by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Deron Williams
Deron Williams
Power 100 rank: 63
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NBA/New Jersey Nets—PG
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star
Earnings: $16,750,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Red Bull

Why he’s on the list: Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov didn’t wait long after buying the New Jersey Nets to make a brash deal to raise the team’s profile—sending players, draft picks, and cash to the Utah Jazz for star point guard Deron Williams. The Nets are counting on Williams, who averages about 18 points and 8 assists, to be the building block of their big move to Brooklyn next season. With his contract up at the end of the year, Prokhorov, who is running for President of Russia, may have to campaign hard to keep Williams from hitting the open market.

Photograph by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis
Power 100 rank: 64
Rank last year: 55
Sport: NBA/Golden State Warriors—G
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 7th-leading NBA scorer
Earnings: $11,250,000
Key sponsors: And1

Why he’s on the list: Not among the best-recognized of NBA stars, Monta Ellis nonetheless keeps threatening to break into the All-Star ranks. His clutch shooting and play making again have placed him among scoring leaders, with 23.3 points per game as of publication. Ellis and teammate Stephen Curry make up one of the more exciting and explosive backcourts in the league.

Photograph by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Apolo Anton Ohno
Apolo Anton Ohno
Power 100 rank: 65
Rank last year: 10
Sport: Speed skating
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: Won a silver and two bronze medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics
Earnings: $1,500,000
Key sponsors: Coca-Cola, AT&T, Vick’s, Alaska Airlines, Subway

Why he’s on the list: After winning eight Olympic medals, Ohno has made the transition from athlete to celebrity. He won the nationally televised Dancing With the Stars competition in 2007, and in 2010 released a memoir, No Regrets.

Photograph by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano
Power 100 rank: 66
Rank last year: 54
Sport: MLB/New York Yankees—2B
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: With his father pitching, won the 2011 MLB Home Run Derby
Earnings: $10,500,000
Key sponsors: Nike, MasterCard, Bing Mobile, New Era

Why he’s on the list: Although his defensive stats slipped from 2010, when he won a Gold Glove for his play at second base, Robinson Cano has emerged as one of the best—and most feared—hitters in baseball. Cano had another great offensive season last year, hitting 28 home runs and a career high 118 RBI.

Photograph by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Power 100 rank: 67
Rank last year: 37
Sport: NFL/San Diego Chargers—QB
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, AFC (backup)
Earnings: $14,000,000
Key sponsors: Reebok, Verizon, Cox

Why he’s on the list: Consistently among the best passers in the NFL, Rivers regressed in some ways last year. His previous season had been one for the ages: 4,710 passing yards, which topped even Peyton Manning, the 2011 Power 100 leader, and won Rivers his first Pro Bowl appearance. In 2011, though, Rivers tossed 20 interceptions—fourth most in the league—as the Chargers sank to 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

Photograph by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan
Power 100 rank: 68
Rank last year: 65
Sport: NBA/San Antonio Spurs—F
Age: 35
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star
Earnings: $25,500,000
Key sponsors: Adidas, Sprite, HEB

Why he’s on the list: The epitome of a team-oriented athlete, Tim Duncan has every award possible: 13-time NBA All-Star, three-time league champion, finals MVP, All-Defensive team, Rookie of the Year. Playing in a smaller market and having a quiet personality that befits a psychology major helps explain why Duncan hasn’t landed the big endorsement deals of a LeBron James. Still, even as his scoring average has slipped to half what it once was, Duncan’s class and off-court popularity keep him on our list.

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Toews
Power 100 rank: 69
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NHL/Chicago Blackhawks—C
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: 2010 Stanley Cup MVP and member of the 2012 NHL All-Star team
Earnings: $6,750,000
Key sponsors: Bauer

Why he’s on the list: The Chicago Blackhawks captain helped the team win the 2010 Stanley Cup. Toews became the youngest player to join the Triple Gold Club, which numbers hockey players who have won the Stanley Cup, as well as gold medals in the Olympics and Ice Hockey World Championships.

Photograph by Amie Sabau/Getty Images
Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook
Power 100 rank: 70
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NBA/Oklahoma City Thunder—PG
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star
Earnings: $5,100,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: The dynamic scoring duo of Kevin Durant (No. 17) and Russell Westbrook announced themselves to the NBA two years ago, when their Oklahoma City Thunder nearly derailed the Los Angeles Lakers' championship run. This year the Thunder have one of the league’s best records (14-3 as of publication), and Westbrook’s quicksilver drives to the hoop and 20-point average are a big reason why. The Thunder rewarded Westbrook with an $80 million contract extension in mid-January.

Photograph by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Martin Kaymer
Martin Kaymer
Power 100 rank: 71
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Golf
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: No 1. in Official World Golf Rankings 2011, won WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Earnings: $10,500,000
Key sponsors: Hugo Boss, BMW, Taylor Made, Rolex

Why he’s on the list: Martin Kaymer turned pro in 2005 but didn’t join the ranks of top golfers until five years later, when he captured four titles on the PGA/European. Apparently the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship really inspires his game, since he’s won the title a surprising three times.

Photograph by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews
Power 100 rank: 72
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Green Bay Packers—LB
Age: 25
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, NFC
Earnings: $2,500,000
Key sponsors: Suave, Nike, CytoSport, Perfect Punch

Why he’s on the list: In only his second season as a pro, Clay Matthews racked up 13.5 quarterback sacks and nearly was named the top defensive player in the league. This past season was quieter for Matthews and disappointing for his team—after winning the title in 2011, the 15-1 Packers were bounced from the playoffs. Still, Matthews, with his long hair (which landed him a marketing deal with Unilever’s Suave) and signature “Predator” sack dance, is one of the more marketable members of a dynamic young team.

Photograph by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Steve Nash
Steve Nash
Power 100 rank: 73
Rank last year: 51
Sport: NBA/Phoenix Suns—PG
Age: 37
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 assists leader
Earnings: $16,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Vitamin Water, Mission Skincare

Why he’s on the list: He’s still one of the leading passers in the NBA at the age of 37, as well as a fan favorite. Which explains why Steve Nash is among the leaders in public All-Star voting—and, with his contract up at the end of the year, is likely to be sought after by teams that need a floor leader. He is an active investor in various global products and causes, including via his Steve Nash Foundation for under-served kids.

Photograph by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista
Power 100 rank: 74
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: MLB/Toronto Blue Jays—RF
Age: 31
Most recent notable achievement: American League Home Run Champion in 2011, second year in a row
Earnings: $10,500,000
Key sponsors: Booster Juice, New Balance

Why he’s on the list: Jose Bautista made the 2011 All-Star team (no surprise), but he did so receiving 7.5 million votes, an MLB record. Last season he led the majors in slugging percentage (.608) and walks (132). He’s hit 97 home runs over the last two seasons, and the Blue Jays locked him up with a five-year contract extension last February.

Photograph by Abelimages/Getty Images
Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony
Power 100 rank: 75
Rank last year: 48
Sport: NBA/New York Knicks—F
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star
Earnings: $24,500,000
Key sponsors: Boost Mobile, Nike

Why he’s on the list: Last year, Carmelo Anthony forced a trade from the Denver Nuggets to New York to work alongside his buddy Amar’e Stoudemire. The move paid off in an endorsement deal with Boost Mobile. The 5th-leading scorer with a 24.1 average per game as of publication, Anthony has returned star power—if not yet a title—to one of the NBA’s premier markets.

Photograph by Al Bello/Getty Images
Daniel Sedin
Daniel Sedin
Power 100 rank: 76
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NHL/Vancouver Canucks—LW
Age: 31
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 NHL All-Star team
Earnings: $6,850,000
Key sponsors: Bauer

Why he’s on the list: A 10-year veteran from Sweden, Daniel Sedin is a potent scorer who helps spark the Canucks’ offense. He logged his 700th career point on Jan. 12, and he helped lead the Canucks to the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Sedin’s twin brother Henrik also plays for Vancouver.

Photograph by Abelimages / Getty Images
Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski
Power 100 rank: 77
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/New England Patriots—TE
Age: 22
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, AFC
Earnings: $1,500,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: The records keep falling for Ron Gronkowski. He finished his second regular season with more yards (1,327) and touchdown catches (17) than any tight end, ever. He caught three touchdown passes in a Jan. 15, 2012, playoff victory against the Denver Broncos, tying the most ever for a tight end. And “Gronk” does it with a winning, goofy personality that should endear him to sponsors in coming years.

Photograph by Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter
Power 100 rank: 78
Rank last year: 26
Sport: MLB/New York Yankees—SS
Age: 37
Most recent notable achievement: Joined the 3,000 hit club last season
Earnings: $25,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, Ford

Why he’s on the list: The Yankee captain is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. A 12-time All-Star and five-time World Series champ, Derek Jeter has earned his nicknames “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November” for his postseason exploits. In 2011, Jeter joined a very exclusive club: He became the 28th player in the history of the sport to reach 3,000 hits.

Photograph by Nick Laham/Getty Images
Abby Wambach
Abby Wambach
Power 100 rank: 79
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Soccer
Age: 31
Most recent notable achievement: Named Female Athlete of the Year for 2011 by the Associated Press
Earnings: $1,500,000
Key sponsors: Gatorade, Nike, MVP Healthcare

Why she’s on the list: Abby Wambach has scored 13 goals in three World Cup appearances, the most by an American, placing third on the all-time list. She led the U.S. women’s team to the verge of victory at the World Cup in Germany, following a clutch header to help the U.S. defeat Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Photograph by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images
Andy Murray
Andy Murray
Power 100 rank: 80
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Tennis
Age: 24
Most recent notable achievement: Ranked No. 4 in the world
Earnings: $9,600,000
Key sponsors: Adidas, Head, Royal Bank of Scotland

Why he’s on the list: Andy Murray has been a top-ranked player since 2007. He has been a runner-up in three Grand Slam finals—the US Open (2008) and twice at the Australian Open (2010 and 2011).

Photograph by Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images
Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki
Power 100 rank: 81
Rank last year: 79
Sport: MLB/Colorado Rockies—SS
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: Awarded second consecutive Fielding Bible Award as the best fielding shortstop in MLB
Earnings: $6,500,000
Key sponsors: EvoShield, Nike, Rawlings

Why he’s on the list: In addition to winning his second-consecutive Fielding Bible Award, the All-Star shortstop also received his second-consecutive Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. He finished the 2011 season with 30 homers, 105 RBI, and a .302 batting average.

Photograph by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images
Lindsey Vonn
Lindsey Vonn
Power 100 rank: 82
Rank last year: 13
Sport: Skiing
Age: 27
Most recent notable achievement: Nabbed her 47th career title with a January 2012 victory in a Super G race in Italy
Earnings: $3,500,000
Key sponsors: Under Armour, Head, Oakley, Rolex

Why she’s on the list: Lindsey Vonn is a star in the world of professional skiing, holding third-place for career wins. Vonn grabbed a gold and bronze at the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia and is likely to be a contender in both 2014 and 2018. She won eight titles during the 2011 season, and also captured a silver medal at the 2011 World Championships.

Photograph by Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images
Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova
Power 100 rank: 83
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Tennis
Age: 21
Most recent notable achievement: Won first Grand Slam in 2011 at Wimbledon
Earnings: $6,250,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Wilson

Why she’s on the list: The Czech native, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, is a fast-rising star on the women’s pro tour. She captured the 2011 Wimbledon singles title by defeating Maria Sharapova in the finals.

Photograph by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Adam Scott
Adam Scott
Power 100 rank: 84
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Golf
Age: 31
Most recent notable achievement: Won 2011 Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio
Earnings: $6,800,000
Key sponsors: Titleist, Rolex, Aquascutum

Why he’s on the list: Scott, who hired Tiger Woods’ former caddie Steve Williams in 2011 and promptly won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, ranked 13th on the PGA Tour with eight finishes in the top 10. The young Australian, who has a delicate touch on the course, is likely to notch some major PGA accomplishments in coming years.

Photograph by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Kevin Love
Kevin Love
Power 100 rank: 85
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NBA/Minnesota Timberwolves—F
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 double points/rebounds leader
Earnings: $5,600,000
Key sponsors: Jose Cuervo, 361 Degrees

Why he’s on the list: One of the more remarkable feats of the 2010-2011 basketball season was Kevin Love’s penchant for doubling up on points and rebounds. He recorded the league’s first 30-point, 30-rebound game in 28 years, against the Knicks, and reeled off an incredible 53 straight games with double-digit points and rebounds. That landed Love in the All-Star game and caught the eye of sponsors such as Jose Cuervo, which signed him to a tequila marketing deal. On Jan. 25, the Timberwolves signed Love to a four-year contract extension that the Associated Press reported is worth $60 million to $62 million.


Photograph by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images
Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas
Power 100 rank: 86
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NHL/Boston Bruins—G
Age: 37
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 Stanley Cup winner, 2011 Vezina Trophy winner, 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner
Earnings: $5,750,000
Key sponsors: Bauer, Arbella Insurance Group

Why he’s on the list: Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas made 2011 a memorable year, setting a new record for save percentage in a season, at .938. Thomas also had no small part in the team’s Stanley Cup victory: He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender and the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. Off the ice, Thomas caused a stir on Jan. 23 when he declined an invitation to the White House with his team to meet President Obama, saying in a statement that he believes “the federal government has grown out of control.”

Photograph by AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw
Power 100 rank: 87
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: MLB/Los Angeles Dodgers—SP
Age: 23
Most recent notable achievement: National League Cy Young Award winner
Earnings: $1,500,000
Key sponsors: Under Armor, Wilson

Why he’s on the list: Clayton Kershaw was selected for the National League All-Star team during the 2011 season. He notched 21 wins, with 248 strikeouts and a 2.28 ERA—winning the NL pitching Triple Crown. Before the start of last season, Kershaw visited Zambia with his wife as part of a Christian mission organized by Dallas-based Arise Africa. He has raised money to build an orphanage in Zambia.

Photograph by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Hope Solo
Hope Solo
Power 100 rank: 88
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Soccer
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: Saved three penalty kicks against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup, preserving the U.S. win
Earnings: $2,500,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Gatorade, Bank of America

Why she’s on the list: Known for her elegant fashion sense, Solo is the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. team and a star in the soccer world. Despite past controversies involving her criticism of the team, Solo has earned a solid starting role for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Like fellow Olympian Apolo Ohno, Solo furthered her celebrity by competing on the television program Dancing With the Stars.

Photograph by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Carlos González
Carlos González
Power 100 rank: 89
Rank last year: 77
Sport: MLB/Colorado Rockies—LF
Age: 26
Most recent notable achievement: Signed a seven-year, $80.5 million contract extension with the Colorado Rockies
Earnings: $1,500,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: The National League batting champion in 2010, Carlos González played in only 127 games in 2011 because of injuries. Still, he finished with a .295 batting average, 26 home runs, and 92 RBI. Last year, González was the lowest-paid sports star on our list. His new contract means this is no longer the case.

Photograph by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol
Power 100 rank: 90
Rank last year: 60
Sport: NBA/Los Angeles Lakers—F
Age: 31
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 NBA All-Star
Earnings: $19,450,000
Key sponsors: Banco Popular, San Miguel, EA Sports, Nike

Why he’s on the list: In a commercial for Spanish brewer San Miguel, Pau and brother Marc—who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies—are shown competing in a pickup game and then cooling down with a brew. It’s not the kind of sports drink you see most stars endorsing, but the ad shows how the Spaniard, coming off the Lakers’ championships in 2009 and 2010, has become a popular global symbol for the NBA.

Photograph by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Terrell Suggs
Terrell Suggs
Power 100 rank: 91
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Baltimore Ravens—LB
Age: 29
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, AFC
Earnings: $11,000,000
Key sponsors: PETA, Nike

Why he’s on the list: It takes an outsized talent—and personality—to stand out on the Baltimore Ravens’ defense, home of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Terrell Suggs qualifies on both accounts. Suggs got a laugh and created an Internet sensation when he gave his alma mater on a national TV introduction as “Ball So Hard University” (riffing off a hip-hop song). On the field, Suggs was a terror, sacking the opposing quarterback 14 times this season on his way to becoming a leading candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Photograph by Larry French/Getty Images
Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick
Power 100 rank: 92
Rank last year: 88
Sport: Nascar
Age: 36
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 Nascar Camping World Truck Series Owner’s Champions
Earnings: $8,500,000
Key sponsors: Budweiser, Rheem, Jimmy John’s

Why he’s on the list: Harvick had a monster year on the racing circuit in 2011, with four wins, nine finishes in the top five, and 19 top-10 finishes. Harvick's knack for come-from-behind victories has fans expecting even more from him in 2012.

Photograph by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Venus Williams
Venus Williams
Power 100 rank: 93
Rank last year: 32
Sport: Tennis
Age: 31
Most recent notable achievement: A record 294 consecutive Grand Slam matches without retiring
Earnings: $10,200,000
Key sponsors: Wilson, EA Sports, Kraft, Polo Ralph Lauren, Powerade

Why she’s on the list: Injuries and illness plagued Venus Williams last year, causing the Women’s Tennis Assn. to rank Venus at 101 in the world. Health is still an issue: Venus recently pulled out of the Australian Open because of an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain. Although Venus slipped dramatically in our rankings, the seven-time Grand Slam winner is still a marketing powerhouse.

Photograph by Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
David Ortiz
David Ortiz
Power 100 rank: 94
Rank last year: 75
Sport: MLB/Boston Red Sox—DH
Age: 36
Most recent notable achievement: Winner of the Roberto Clemente Award for sportsmanship, community service and contribution to his team
Earnings: $16,500,000
Key sponsors: JetBlue, Reebok, Vitamin Water, Easton, DirecTV

Why he’s on the list: The aging Red Sox slugger still has power. He became MLB’s all time RBI leader by a designated hitter last season. On July 27, 2011, Ortiz hit his 1,000th RBI with the Boston Red Sox. Ortiz finished the season hitting .309 with 29 home runs and 96 RBI.

Photograph by Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Wes Welker
Wes Welker
Power 100 rank: 95
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/New England Patriots—WR
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, AFC
Earnings: $4,500,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Advocare

Why he’s on the list: He’s only 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, but Wes Welker has a huge impact once he steps on the football field. In a game against Miami last year, the speedy wide receiver became one of only 12 players to cover 99 yards on a touchdown catch. Underestimated at all levels, Welker went undrafted after playing offense, defense, and special teams for Texas Tech. Since joining Tom Brady (No. 3) and the Patriots in 2007, Welker has caught at least 100 passes four times, including 122 in 2011.

Photograph by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images
Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka
Power 100 rank: 96
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: Tennis
Age: 22
Most recent notable achievement: Won Sydney International 2012
Earnings: $3,950,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Head, Tourna Grip, Power Balance

Why she’s on the list: Known for her muted shrieks when striking the ball, “Vika,” the third-seed player on the women’s tour, is a rapidly rising star who moved ahead seven spots in the world rankings in 2011.

Photograph by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
James Anderson
James Anderson
Power 100 rank: 97
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Carolina Panthers—LB
Age: 28
Most recent notable achievement: 2011 6th leading tackler
Earnings: $3,100,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: The Carolina Panthers are a young team with its best days ahead—which explains why they were so eager last summer to wrap up linebacker James Anderson with a five-year contract potentially worth $22 million. The quiet Anderson gets tackles in bunches—17 against Atlanta last December, and 15 against New Orleans in the final game of the 2011 season—and he’s tough against the pass. The Panthers were only 6-10 last season, but clearly they expect big things from this defensive leader.

Photograph by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace
Power 100 rank: 98
Rank last year: Unranked
Sport: NFL/Pittsburgh Steelers—WR
Age: 25
Most recent notable achievement: 2012 Pro Bowl, AFC
Earnings: $1,100,000
Key sponsors: Nike

Why he’s on the list: Since coming to Pittsburgh in 2009, Mike Wallace has made a name as one of the NFL’s elite long-ball receivers. His pure speed is a perfect complement to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s cannon arm. Wallace lit up the league in 2010 with a spectacular 21 yards-per-catch average, and starred in a losing cause in the Super Bowl later that season. In 2011, Wallace was selected to his first Pro Bowl.

Photograph by Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton
Power 100 rank: 99
Rank last year: 41
Sport: MLB/Texas Rangers—LF
Age: 30
Most recent notable achievement: Named to American League All-Star team
Earnings: $11,000,000
Key sponsors: Nike, Franklin, Panini

Why he’s on the list: Coming off an MVP season in 2010, Josh Hamilton fractured his right humerus sliding into home plate. Three weeks later he was back in the lineup helping to lead the Texas Rangers to the 2011 World Series. (They lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.) He ended the season with 25 home runs and a .298 batting average.

Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker
Power 100 rank: 100
Rank last year: 59
Sport: Golf
Age: 44
Most recent notable achievement: Won 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Hawaii
Earnings: $9,000,000
Key sponsors: NYSE, Titleist, Allianz Life, FootJoy

Why he’s on the list: Stricker is widely considered one of the most skillful putters on the PGA Tour, and his short game kept him in contention in several tournaments he nearly lost in 2011. Stricker won the John Deere Classic in July 2011 by sinking a 25-foot birdie putt.

Photograph by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images