Is the slumping economy finally affecting America’s premier athletes? For the sixth consecutive year, Sports Illustrated has compiled a list of the 50 top-earning American athletes in salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees. And for the first time, the average earnings of those on the list fell — down $1.5 million per athlete to $23.6 million.
That falloff is mostly due to lower earnings for No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 2 Phil Mickelson, both of whom saw their on-course income shrink while also losing key endorsement deals. This year’s list features 22 basketball players (a record nine who earned more than $20 million), 14 major leaguers, nine football players, three golfers and two NASCAR drivers.