The Highest Paid Athletes: 2010

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10. Dale Earnhardt Jr: $34 million

Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (born October 10, 1974), better known simply as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is a professional American race car driver who drives the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard  Chevrolet  Impala in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports, and drives in the Nationwide Series part-time for the #88 car for his own team, JR Motorsports.

He is the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and the grandson of both the late NASCAR driver Ralph Earnhardt and Robert Gee, the well known stock car fabricator. Earnhardt Jr. is also the half-brother of former driver Kerry Earnhardt, the uncle of driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, and the stepson of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team co-owner Teresa Earnhardt. -Wikipedia.org

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9. Valentino Rossi: $35 million

Valentino Rossi, (born February 16, 1979 in Urbino),  is an Italian professional motorcycle racer and multiple MotoGP World Champion. He is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time, with 9 Grand Prix World Championships to his name.  Following his father, Graziano Rossi, Rossi started racing in Grand Prix in 1996 for Aprilia in the 125cc category and won his first World Championship the following year.

From there, he moved up to the 250cc category with Aprilia and won the 250cc World Championship in 1999. He won the 500cc World Championship with Honda in 2001, the MotoGP World Championships (also with Honda) in 2002 and 2003, and continued his streak of back-to-back championships by winning the 2004 and 2005 titles after leaving Honda to join Yamaha, before regaining the title in 2008 and retaining it in 2009. -Wikipedia.org

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8. Manny Pacquiao: $40 million

Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, also known as Manny Pacquiao, (pronounced /ˈpækjaʊ/; born December 17, 1978) is a Filipino professional boxer and politician. He is a Seven-Division World Champion, the first boxer in history to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions — Flyweight, Super Bantamweight, Featherweight, Super Featherweight, Lightweight, Light Welterweight and Welterweight. In addition, he is the first boxer in history to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes — Flyweight, Featherweight, Super Featherweight and Light Welterweight. -Wikipedia.org

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7. Phil Mickelson: $40 million

Philip Alfred Mickelson (born June 16, 1970) is an American  professional golfer. He has won four major championships and a total of 38 events on the PGA Tour. He has reached a career high world ranking of 2nd in multiple years. He is nicknamed “Lefty” for his left-handed swing, even though he is otherwise right-handed. According to estimates by Fortune Magazine, Mickelson’s income for 2007 was over $51 million, with $47 million coming from endorsements. -Wikipedia.org

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6. LeBron James: $40 million

LeBron Raymone James (pronounced /ləˈbrɒn/; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball  player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association  (NBA). Nicknamed “King James”, he was a three-time “Mr. Basketball” of Ohio in high school, and was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar while a sophomore at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School.

At just 18, he was selected with the number one pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a shoe contract with Nike  before his professional debut. Listed as a small forward, James has set numerous youngest player records since joining the league. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003–04, NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008–09 and 2009–10, and has been both All-NBA  and an All-Star every season since 2005.

In 2010, a much-publicized free agency process ended with James going to the Miami Heat. He became the third reigning NBA MVP to change teams and the first since Moses Malone in 1982. -Wikipedia.org

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5. David Beckham: $42 million

David Robert Joseph Beckham, OBE[2]  (born 2 May 1975) is an English footballer who currently plays in midfield  for Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer. He is also an established member of the England national team.  Twice runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year and in 2004 the world’s highest-paid footballer when taking into account salary and advertising deals. Beckham was the first British footballer to play 100 Champions League matches.

He was Google’s most searched of all sports topics in both 2003 and 2004. With such global recognition he has become an elite advertising brand and a top fashion icon. Beckham was captain of England from 15 November 2000 until the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, during which he played 58 times. Since then he has continued to represent his country and earned his much-publicised hundredth cap for England against France on 26 March 2008. He is currently England’s most-capped outfield player with 115 appearances. -Wikipedia.org

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4. Kimi Raikkonen: $45 million

Kimi-Matias Räikkönen (born 17 October 1979 in Espoo), nicknamed Iceman, and occasionally described as “the fastest driver on the planet”, is a Finnish World Rally Championship and former Formula One driver. After nine seasons racing in Formula One, in which he took the 2007 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship, he now competes in the World Rally Championship for the Citroën Junior Team. -Wikipedia.org

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3. Michael Jordan: $45 million

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963) is a former American professional basketball player, active businessman, and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. His biography on the National Basketball Association  (NBA) website states, “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.”

Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. Jordan is also noted for his product endorsements. He fueled the success of Nike’s  Air Jordan sneakers, which were introduced in 1985 and remain popular today.

Jordan also starred in the 1996 feature film Space Jam as himself. He is the majority owner and head of basketball operations for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats; he recently won a bidding war to buy controlling interest in the team from founding owner Robert L. Johnson. -Wikipedia.org

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2. Kobe Bryant: $45 million

Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978(1978-08-23)) is an American professional basketball player who plays shooting guard in the National Basketball Association  (NBA) for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant enjoyed a successful high school basketball career and decided to declare his eligibility for the NBA Draft upon graduation.

He was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. -Wikipedia.org

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1. Tiger Woods: $110 million

Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Currently the World No. 1, he is the highest-paid professional athlete in the world, having earned an estimated $90.5 million from winnings and endorsements in 2010.  Woods has won 14 professional major golf championships, the second highest of any male player (Jack Nicklaus leads with 18), and 71 PGA Tour events, third all time.

He has more career major wins and career PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and the youngest and fastest to win 50 tournaments on tour. Additionally, Woods is only the second golfer, after Jack Nicklaus, to have achieved a career Grand Slam three times. Woods has won 16 World Golf Championships, and has won at least one of those events each of the 11 years they have been in existence. -Wikipedia.org

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