US NBA superstar LeBron James edges Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer for the title of biggest moneymaker at the London Olympics with an annual income of USD 53 million,according to Forbes magazine.
The 2012 Forbes list of the world’s 100 richest athletes was revealed last month with US dollar figures for salary and prize money as well as endorsement sponsorship deals.
In all,there were 12 London Olympians from the list,including half of the 12-man US Olympic “Dream Team” of NBA stars,four tennis players,Spanish NBA star Pau Gasol and Usain Bolt,the Jamaican Olympic gold-medal sprinter.
James adopts a humble attitude when asked about being one of the stars of the Olympics.
We’re all stars in our own right, James said. Every athlete has to be a star in their country just to be here. These are the stars of the stars.
“We understand the atmosphere. We don’t take it for granted. It keeps you very humble. There will be a time when it’s not like this so you try to take it all in.”
American boxer Floyd Mayweather,jailed in Las Vegas for a domestic assault,led the list at USD 85 million with Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao second on USD 62 million and 14-time major golf champion Tiger Woods third on USD 59.4 million.
None of them are competing in the London Olympics,although Woods — who had topped the lit since 2001 until the aftermath of his infamous sex scandal — might be able to compete in the 2016 Rio Games when golf returns.
NBA Most Valuable Player James,who led the Miami Heat to the NBA crown last month for his first career title,was fourth on the list,just ahead of Federer in fifth at USD 52.7 million and US teammate Kobe Bryant,sixth at USD 52.3 million.
Federer was the winner in the all-important endorsement category,his USD 45 million for pitchman sales skills eclipsing second-best James by USD 5 million,but his USD 7.7 million in prize money failed to match James’ USD 13 million salary.
But asked if he was the biggest star of the Olympics,Federer deferred.
Not me, he said. There are great Olympians who have many medals around their necks already — other athletes,some who maybe are not so famous but have done so much for their sport as well,that we don’t always talk about.
“That’s the beauty of the Olympics — we will see so many great stories written and talked about in the next few weeks. I will follow it very closely.
“But obviously I think Usain Bolt and (US swim star) Michael Phelps and maybe the NBA players are very well known.” Bryant was third in endorsement income at USD 32 million and topped the salary and prize money list at USD 20.3 million.
Had England’s David Beckham been selected for the British football squad,he would have been the only footballer from the list at the Games. The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder would have been fourth in London at USD 46 million.
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal,forced to pull out with an injury,might also have been fourth-wealthiest among London Olympians at USD 33.2 million.
Instead,the fourth-richest is Russian tennis beauty Maria Sharapova at USD 27.9 million,followed by US NBA stars Kevin Durant (USD 25.5 million) and Carmelo Anthony (USD 22.9 million).
Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic ranks seventh at USD 20.6 million followed by Bolt at USD 20.3 million,US NBA star Chris Paul at USD 19.2 million,Chinese tennis star Li Na at USD 18.4 million,US NBA star Deron Williams at USD 18.2
million and Gasol at USD 17.2 million.
Bryant topped a Forbes list of 2008 Beijing Olympians with USD 39 million followed by James on USD 38 million with Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho third,Federer fourth and China’s now-retired NBA star Yao Ming in fifth.