Forbes: McIlroy is world's 35th highest paid athlete

Forbes: McIlroy is world's 35th highest paid athlete

Rory McIlroy basks in the limelight of his BMW PGA Championship win at Wentworth last May. Picture: David Lloyd /

The figures only cover the 12 months to June this year — just before he won two consecutive majors — but Rory McIlroy is already the 35th best paid athlete on the planet according to Forbes' The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes 2014.

He's tied with New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, a man who's announced he's retiring at the end of the year, with estimated earnings from June 2013 to June 2014 of $24.3 million made up of salary/winning of $4.3 million and endorsement earnings of $20 million.

That's a long way short of what we might imagine given that Horizon Sports Management's Conor Ridge swears in his affidavit of 15 September — part of the on-going legal battle between McIlroy and Horizon — that the Holywood man has already received $50m of the $100m Nike contract.

The Forbes' list is headed by boxer Floyd Mayweather ($105 million) from Cristiano Ronaldo ($80 million), LeBron James ($72.3 million) and Lionel Messi ($64.7 million) with Kobe Bryant ($61.5 million), Tiger Woods ($61.2 million), Roger Federer ($56.2 million), Phil Mickelson ($53.2 million),  Rafael Nadal ($44.5 million) and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan ($43.8 million) rounding out the Top-10.

Forbes' Kurt Badenhausen has also compiled a list of the biggest athletes on social media and the superb infographic puts the relative importance of golf into perspective among the planet's biggest hitters.

Yes, golfing consumers generally have more spending power than the average soccer or American football fan but golf certainly can't compete for mass interest, at least as far as the social media popularity of the Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes.

No fewer than 38 athletes in the Top 100 have more social media followers than McIlroy had last June — 2m between Twitter and Facebook. Soccer is still the king of games.

Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes' Follower numbers

  1. Soccer 337.23m
  2. Basketball 153.89m
  3. Tennis 64.05m
  4. Boxing 19.17m
  5. Track 17.94m
  6. Motor racing 13.42m
  7. Baseball 12.79m
  8. Cricket 12.06m
  9. Golf 9.47m
  10. American football 9.26m

Infographic via Forbes