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Published 27 July 2012 07:30, Updated 30 July 2012 06:48
Fast money ... Sprinter and Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt ranks No. 7 on a Forbes list of the highest-paid athletes competing at this year’s summer games. Photo: Michael Steele
The Olympics is big business not just for the organisers but for a handful of very well-paid athletes.
Forbes runs a ruler over the hotshots fronting up to the 2012 London Olympic Gamers over the next two weeks and finds a bevy of basketball and tennis aces filling out the ranks of the top-paid athletes who are set to compete.
There’s also an anomaly, sprinter and 2008 triple gold medallist Usain Bolt, whose star has shone so brightly since he wowed the world in Beijing that he took home $US20.3 million over the past year. That princely sum earned him the No.7 spot in Forbes’ list of the highest-paid Olympic athletes.
Bolt, whose sponsors include Gatorade, Hublot, Nissan, Visa and Puma (which pays $US9 million a year for the privilege of having the runner sport its kit), heads in to the games having lost races to training partner Yohan Blake, and having made that infamous false start at last year’s world championships.
But regardless, hundreds of millions of people worldwide are expected to tune in on the morning of August 6 (AEST) to see the long-legged showman strut his stuff.
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations will participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 10 highest-paid among them earned $US313 million collectively over the past 12 months, according to Forbes.
Not surprisingly, tennis big gun Roger Federer is top of the pops, with earnings of $US54.3 million between July 2011 and July 2012. By Forbes’ calculations, that includes $US9.3 million in prize money and $US45 million from appearances and an impressive portfolio of sponsors that includes Nike, Rolex, Wilson, Credit Suisse, Gillette, Mercedes-Benz and more.
The No.2 and No.3 spots on the list are taken out by basketballers LeBron James ($US53 million) and Kobe Bryant ($US52.3 million), who both pick up handsome royalties from Nike, which also flies the pair around the world for store openings and basketball clinics.
The highest-ranked woman comes in at No.4. Maria Sharapova took home a prize and endorsements purse of $US27 million for the year, ahead of her fellow players Novak Djokovic (No.8 with earnings of $US19.8 million) and China’s Li Na (No.10 with $US18.4 million).