Sport can be a hugely lucrative profession for those at the top of their game, and big money can be earned regardless of where athletes come from.
At least, that’s what I took away from a new study based on the salaries and/or prize money won in 2011 by sportsmen and sportswomen the world over. This ESPN list isn’t about the straight richest athletes anywhere in the world, but details the best-paid athletes in 200 different countries.
The full table makes for interesting reading. Boxer Floyd Mayweather comes top in the U.S., with 2011 earnings of $40,000,000. Yet he isn’t the best-paid athlete about. In fact, Mayweather is topped by his staunch rival, Manny Pacquiao of the Phillipines. It’s worth noting that Mayweather’s $40 million came from just one bout, while Pacquiao fought twice in 2011. Nevertheless, the relative economic poverty seen in the Phillipines hasn’t kept Pacquiao from making some serious bucks.
Likewise, a number of African nations with poorer economies have produced soccer players earning many millions of dollars.
Indeed, the size of a country often seems to influence the earnings of each country’s top earners (which would certainly make sense, the chances of producing a top-earner reduced by smaller populations). At the bottom of the list, Bhutan’s soccer star Chencho and Tuvalu’s Alopua Petoa (also a soccer player) earned just $4,000 apiece in 2011. Bhutan and Tuvalu have populations of just 700,000 and 10,000 respectively; not the very smallest nations about, but pretty tiny.
Another observation to come out of this – soccer really is the world’s sport. Discuss.