Sports: List of top-paid athletes has more non-Americans than 1995, says Forbes

American Floyd Mayweather Jr, whose fight with Manny Pacquiao in May was the richest bout in boxing history, was the runaway leader atop the current Forbes list with total earnings of US$300 million during the 12-month period ending in June.
American Floyd Mayweather Jr, whose fight with Manny Pacquiao in May was the richest bout in boxing history, was the runaway leader atop the current Forbes list with total earnings of US$300 million during the 12-month period ending in June.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - The world's highest-paid athletes are a much richer and more international group than those who dominated the same list 20 years ago, Forbes said on Friday.

The top 40 earners in sport over the last year combined to earn US$1.9 billion (S$2.64 billion) in prize money, salary and endorsements, up significantly from the US$490 million made by the highest earners in 1995, according to Forbes.

Among those on the current list, 21 were born outside the United States, including four of the top five. By comparison, former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany, ranked ninth, was highest among the eight non-Americans who made the 1995 list.

There is also a much heavier dose of footballers in the 2015 list compared to 20 years ago, which Forbes attributed to a 1995 court decision that allowed players whose contracts were up to switch teams without a transfer fee.

American Floyd Mayweather Jr, whose fight with Manny Pacquiao in May was the richest bout in boxing history, was the runaway leader atop the current Forbes list with total earnings of US$300 million during the 12-month period ending in June.

Mayweather's earnings shattered the previous mark held by American former world No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods, who banked US$115 million in 2008, according to Forbes.

Filipino Pacquiao (US$160 million), footballers Cristiano Ronaldo (US$79.6 million) and Lionel Messi (US$73.8 million) and 17-time Grand Slam-winning Swiss tennis player Roger Federer (US$67 million) rounded out the top five.

In 1995, Hall of Fame basketball player Michael Jordan topped the list with US$43.9 million in earnings, followed by boxer Mike Tyson, American footballer and baseballer Deion Sanders, boxer Riddick Bowe and basketball's Shaquille O'Neal.