The Most Surprising Names on Sports Illustrated's Fotunate 50 List

Dustin HullAnalyst IMay 17, 2013

The Most Surprising Names on Sports Illustrated's Fotunate 50 List

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    Sports Illustrated recently released their Fortunate 50 list, ranking the highest-paid athletes based on salary, winnings and endorsement deals.

    No one is shocked to see athletes like LeBron James, Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods on the list, but there were a few names that might surprise some readers.

    Whether it was huge signing bonuses, being picked up by new sponsors or just flat out being overpaid, there were plenty of unexpected names on the SI list.

    Here are a few of the more astonishing results on the list.

"Money" Mayweather by a Mile

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    Floyd Mayweather Jr. has not only established himself as one of the greatest boxing legends of all-time, but he continues to find himself on top of several monetary lists.

    The Fortune 50 list is no exception.

    And Mayweather isn't just at the top, he holds the No. 1 spot. And the way in which Mayweather finished ahead of everyone else is quite astonishing.

    His approximate earnings total of $90 million easily trumps in other amount on this list, with LeBron James coming in second with just over $56.5 million.

    And Mayweather did this in a sport that isn't even one of the top-10 sports in America. He has definitely proved to be one of the most marketable athletes despite boxing's decline.

    Even though his duel with Manny Pacquiao has still evaded the two boxers, Mayweather doesn't need the huge matchup in order to make a big payday. He has turned his career into a true business, making plenty of money off his fights.

Overpaid Outfielders

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    The MLB has had its share of terrible contracts and deals made to players that quickly flared out.

    The outfield positions are a true testament to this reality. Three outfielders that made an appearance in the top 50 may cause a few heads to be scratched, wondering how they could be paid so much.

     

    Vernon Wells

    Vernon Wells, now with the New York Yankees, finds himself at No. 32 on the list thanks to a a huge contract with the Los Angeles Angels. He was given the contract before the 2011 season, only to become a huge disappointment after heading out west.

    After two lackluster seasons where he battled through slumps and injuries, he landed in one of the only places that could handle his contract: New York.

    In the past year, Wells reportedly earned $21.6M between salary and endorsements. This is an absurd number for someone who is hitting above a .273 (currently at .287) for the first time since 2008. He also has not produced more than 88 RBI in a single season since 2007.

     

    Carl Crawford

    Another vast underperformer over the past few years is Carl Crawford, who was given up on in Boston after two nightmarish seasons.

    Crawford was said to have made $20,075,000 (42nd on Fortunate 50) during the course of a year, a drastic amount considering his last two seasons in the league.

    During that time, Crawford managed only 23 stolen bases in 161 games (his bread-and-butter stat) and lacked his normally strong defensive presence.

     

    Alfonso Soriano

    Soriano had an even worse fall from grace, yet he ends the list at No.50.

    The former perennial All-Star turned into what has become a consistently inconsistent player in all facets of the game.

    Soriano revamped his offense in 2012, but it still is not enough to atone for how overpaid he has been during the past several seasons.

Second-Tier NBA, 1st-Tier Payday

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    Amar'e Stoudemire

    Stoudemire used to be an elite NBA player, the kind of player that any team would love to possess.

    Nowadays, Stoudemire is even more injury-prone as a New York Knick than he was in his glory years with the Phoenix Suns. But despite this, Stoudemire has found himself earning some impressive paychecks, totaling to $23,450,000 million.

    Stoudemire, along with Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol, are players who are on their way out of their prime yet still crack the Fortune 50 list. The three totaled out close to $66 million combined, and none of them made the 2013 All Star Game.

     

    Joe Johnson

    Another player that may seem overpaid, even if he is later in his career, is Brooklyn Net guard Joe Johnson.

    Johnson, an electric scorer in his prime, still never seemed worth the kind of price tags he was—and still is—earning. Johnson earned nearly $20 million over the past year, enough to finish 43rd on the Fortunate 50.

Peyton and Eli

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    Peyton Manning may be the most recognizable player in the NFL, but his brother Eli not too far behind.

    Seeing as that is the case, it's a little surprising to see where the two were placed on the Fortunate 50 list.

    Peyton, who has had Sony, Kraft, Papa John's, DirecTV, Sprint and MasterCard sponsors, is only 8th on the list. This is most likely due to NFL salary, which can't compete with a salary from the NBA or MLB.

    He has made 12 Pro Bowls and has been awarded four MVP's, but still found himself behind Drew Brees, Derrick Rose and Phil Mickelson on the list.

    It may seem shocking, but El finishing at the 48th spot. He is behind seven other NFL players on the list (including a defensive and offensive lineman) despite the amount of commercial time he has had over the past few years and his pair of Super Bowl rings.

Stumped by Schaub

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    The third quarterback who finds himself above Eli Manning on the Fortunate 50 list is not Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan.

    Instead, it's Matt Schaub. He is the third-highest earning quarterback in the league, but not even a top-10 quarterback in terms of talent.

    Schaub finished 27th on the list, making nearly every bit of his $22.78 million earnings through his contract (he had just over $300,000 in endorsements), which he signed last September.

    Most of that money came from a large signing bonus he received from the Houston Texans, who he helped to a 12-4 record last season with a great amount of talent around him.

    Although Rodgers has been one of the best QB's in the league the past few years, and the fact that Brady has won three Super Bowls, quarterbacks such as Matt Schaub and Joe Flacco are all of a sudden becoming richer with new deals in place.

    It may be the only year you see him on this list, but Schaub has certainly surprised many by even making it this time.

Paper for the Pitchers

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    Pitchers in baseball are often like running backs in the NFL: You never know when their production is going to fall off.

    For Johan Santana and Barry Zito, this has certainly happened.

    Santana (13th on the list with $26.3 million) was given an insane amount of money by the New York Mets prior to the 2008 season.

    He was more than deserving of the money when he first came to New York, but injuries plagued Santana. He missed the entire 2011 season, and then went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 2012. He re-tore his capsule in the shoulder before this season, and may never pitch again.

    Zack Greinke is also a surprise for how high he has climbed on this list, finishing 10th after he signed a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason. Including the $12 million signing bonus he received from LA, Greinke's salary came to a whopping $29 million.

    Overall, there were 11 pitchers on the Fortunate 50, some of which are the best in the game from 2012, including Justin Verlander (with his newly established mega contract), Matt Cain and Cole Hamels.

    But the list also included Santana, Tim Lincecum (10-15, 5.18 ERA, but has two Cy Young awards) and Barry Zito (five of the past six seasons under .500, ERA over 4.00 each season).

    So while pitchers are certainly cashing in these days, there is indeed an extreme risk being taken by any team signing a starting hurler for the long term.

Big Bucks for Bucs

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally got the dynamic receiver they had long been looking for in Vincent Jackson.

    Jackson, whose eight touchdowns and 1,384 yards earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl, gave Josh Freeman the premier target he greatly needed.

    But in order to get Jackson to begin with, the Bucs had to pay a pretty penny.

    The wideout signed a five-year, $55 million deal, and also received an expensive bonus for signing the contract.

    Overall, Jackson earned the 15th spot on the list with most of his $25.36 million coming from his salary from the team. He also finished ahead of record-breaking receiver Calvin Johnson by nearly $3 million, though he won't have the same numbers in the bank next season.

    In an offseason where Tampa Bay made a fair amount of moves, signing Carl Nicks made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

    The 28-year-old was more than worth being the highest-paid player at his position, but it's still surprising to see the kind of money that Nicks received over the past year.