Alex Rodriguez and the Top 20 Highest Paid Athletes by Country
ESPN the Magazine is releasing a report on May 2nd centered around the top-182 highest paid athletes by country in sports.
The link above will take you to a list of the 182 countries in the report and the highest paid athlete for each country by salary (excluding bonuses, endorsements, etc.).
I have refined that list and reorganized it to show the top 20 highest paid athletes by country.
The rules of the report are that only one player can represent one country, therefore you will only see Alex Rodriguez representing the United States and not the Dominican Republic.
Also, multiple athletes cannot appear from the same country, so goodbye Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, etc.
All monetary values have been converted to US dollars by ESPN to give a baseline currency.
Let's took a look at the top 20 highest paid athletes by country in the world.
20. Brazil: Felipe Massa $17.053 Million
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
I have to admit, I know virtually nothing about Formula One, but according to ESPN, he drives for the Ferrari team, which sounds like a dream come true.
Also, he reportedly finished second-overall in the Drivers' World Championship in 2008, which had to make him some serious cash.
I was honestly surprised that there wasn't a Brazilian soccer player in this spot, but I guess in the United States, we undervalue the mass appeal of Formula One to the rest of the world.
19. Germany: Dirk Nowitzki $17.278 Million
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Dirk Nowitzki is arguably the greatest foreign NBA player ever.
The Mavericks have been to the playoffs 11 consecutive years. They went to the NBA Finals in 2006 and are the No. 3 seed in this year's playoffs.
He also won the 2006-07 NBA MVP and is a member of the 20,000 point club.
In July 2010, he signed an extension on his existing deal for four years, $80 million, ensuring that he will remain at the top of this list for years to come.
18. China: Yao Ming $17.7 Million
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Yao Ming entered the NBA as one of the most sought after and talked about prospects ever. People were amazed by his ability to shoot threes given his size and believed that he could dominate in the low post.
While Yao has been a solid NBA player, injuries have derailed a once promising career.
He continues to make All-Star teams year in and year out due to his enormous fan base in China, but many will look back on Yao's career and think what could have been.
Yao probably isn't too sad though as he is a huge star and makes even more in endorsements as arguably China's most popular athlete.
17. Russia: Andrei Kirilenko $17.822 Million
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
If you need a reason for the NBA lockout, look no further.
Kirilenko has averaged 12.4 PPG for his career and 5.7 rebounds for the Utah Jazz.
When you look up terrible contracts in the dictionary, look no further than this one.
16. Japan: Ichiro Suzuki $18 Million
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Ten years after taking the U.S. by storm, Ichiro is still plugging away at being one of the most dominant hitters in baseball.
In my opinion, Ichiro doesn't get the credit he deserves by most in the media because he doesn't hit towering home runs. He continuously pounds out hit after hit and gets on base any way possible.
In addition, he is still one of the best defensive outfielder in all of baseball.
Ichiro isn't selfish either, as he recently made a huge donation to the tsunami/earthquake relief fund in Japan to help with the catastrophe.
15. Canada: Jason Bay $18.125 Million
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
As a Pirates fan, I feel like I had a hand in Jason Bay being this rich. We banned together to help him become a starting outfielder in the 2006 All-Star game in Pittsburgh.
Two years later, Bay was traded to the Boston Red Sox, where he had continued success with 36 home runs and 119 RBI in 2009.
Following the 2009 season, Bay signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the New York Mets that he has yet to prove he is worthy of.
Injuries have plagued him, since he is arrival with the Mets, and he is currently on the DL.
14. Ivory Coast: Yaya Toure $18.2 Million
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Yaya Toure was transferred to Manchester City as a part of their spending spree from Barcelona.
Toure, who plays Midfield, was transferred for £24 million.
He has played an integral role in Manchester City, reaching the FA Cup Final after defeating arch-rival Manchester United.
13. England: Lewis Hamilton $18.473 Million
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
The second appearance of a Formula One racer, where you would expect a soccer star.
Hamilton won the 2008 Formula One Championship and has finished in the top five every year since 2007.
He is a member of the McLaren-Mercedes team and may be mainly known in America as the former boyfriend of Pussycat Doll singer Nicole Scherzinger.
So this guy is rich, drives awesome cars for living, and had one of the hottest girls in the world as his girlfriend. Maybe we should pay more attention to him in the US (or more of us should want to be Formula One racers).
12. U.S. Virgin Islands: Tim Duncan $18.7 Million
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The U.S. Virgin Islands are listed as separate in the ESPN report, so this allowed Tim Duncan to make an appearance.
Duncan, the consummate pro, has been an enormous part of the four NBA titles the San Antonio Spurs have won during his time with the team.
While his time is winding down as a key NBA contributor, he still gets paid like a superstar, and rightfully so.
9th Tied: Argentina: Carlos Tevez $19 Million
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
The second appearance from a member of Manchester City.
Carlos Tevez and his bulldog-like approach (shout out to FIFA '11) is another key reason why Manchester City has become a force in the EPL.
Tevez was transferred from Manchester United in 2009, for a transfer fee of over £40 million (reports vary on the exact amount).
Tevez has flourished during his time with Manchester City, scoring 42 goals in 62 appearances, making him well worth the money.
9th Tied: Dominican Republic: Alfonso Soriano $19 Million
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Alfonso Soriano was one of the best players in all of baseball in the mid-2000s, even being traded for Alex Rodriguez (who will appear later on this list).
In 2007, Soriano signed an eight-year, $136 Million deal with the Chicago Cubs that made him one of the highest paid players in baseball.
Unfortunately for Cubs fans, Soriano has been a solid performer but not worth the huge amount of money he is being paid.
They probably could have spent that money more effectively to try and end the World Series drought.
9th Tied: Panama: Carlos Lee $19 Million
Bob Levey/Getty Images
In 2006, Carlos Lee signed a six-year, $100 Million deal with the Houston Astros.
Although he was a key contributor in his first few years, Lee's production has dropped significantly.
This is right up there with Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown, and others for the worst MLB contract in history.
8. Puerto Rico: Carlos Beltran $19.325 Million
Al Bello/Getty Images
Puerto Rico applies under the same rules that the U.S. Virgin Islands are included. While it's owned by the United States, it is not an actual state.
Therefore, Carlos Beltran makes an appearance on the list.
Much like the other baseball players on the list, Beltran was highly paid for his past performance.
Beltran has been a great player throughout the years, but his production has dropped in recent years as he has been injured.
I bet the Mets fans sure enjoy having Beltran and Jason Bay on this list, while they continue to struggle each year.
7. Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo: $19.5 Million
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Finally, after seeing a number of washed up baseball players, we get to someone who is actually in their prime.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most popular athletes in the world and plays for one of the greatest soccer clubs, Real Madrid.
Ronaldo was transferred from Manchester United in 2009 for £80 million.
He continues to be a star for Real Madrid, as he is a key contributor on the squad that will be playing in the Champions League semifinals against Barcelona.
6. Italy: Valentino Rossi $20.8 Million
Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images
Maybe I need to reconsider my career if you can make $20 million racing a motorcycle.
I don't follow MotoGP (or know anyone that does for that matter), but reportedly, Rossi has won the MotoGP Premier title nine times.
You don't have to know anything about motorcycle racing to know that this is dominant.
5. Venezuela: Johan Santana $21.645 Million
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
If spending money on international baseball players was an Olympic sport, the New York Mets would win the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.
Johan Santana was dominant for the Minnesota Twins, but wanted out of town, so he was traded to the Mets in 2008.
He then signed a six-year, $137.5 Million contract that includes a $25 million club option in 2014.
Even though Santana finished third in the Cy Young voting his first season, he has had an injury-plagued tenure that probably has the Mets rethinking the money they spent.
4. Spain: Fernando Alonso $22.737 Million
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Now I am absolutely sure I should have been a Formula One driver.
A member of the Ferrari Marlboro team, he won back-to-back Formula One Championships in 2005 and 2006.
Last year, he finished second in the Formula One Championship.
This guy is so popular in Spain that he has incited what they call Alonsomania, which I believe may be a close cousin to Hulkamania. Not sure though.
3. Finland: Kimi Raikkonen $26.333 Million
Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images
The last Formula One driver we will see on the list.
Raikkonen won the 2007 Formula One Championship and has since jumped ship to the World Rally Championship.
Raikkonen is reportedly a legend in racing, finishing in the top 10 of Formula One every year from 2001-09.
My question is, if Formula One racing is so lucrative, why aren't American drivers training for it instead of NASCAR?
1st Tied: United States: Alex Rodriguez $32 Million
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Unless you are absent from American sports space, you already knew this was coming.
Alex Rodriguez has signed the most lucrative contract in baseball (well all sports for that matter) twice.
His current contract signed in 2007 is for 10 years and worth $275 million.
Unlike other baseball players on this list, A-Rod continues to perform.
Albert Pujols may pass A-Rod with his contract coming this summer, but for the time being, Rodriguez is the king of American sports.
Quick note: Nothing is more frustrating to me as a Pirates fan than knowing that A-Rod made more money than the entire roster last year. Think about that for a second. He made more money than the 25 Pirates players combined.
1st Tied: Philippines: Manny Pacquaio $32 Million
This may come as a surprise to you but others, not.
Manny Pacquaio fought twice in 2010 and was the highest paid athlete in the world (along with Alex Rodriguez).
If you need anymore motivation as to why there should be a Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquaio fight, it is that they could be the two most highly paid athletes in the world.
Imagine how much money promoters would pay to see these two fight—$40 million, $50 million?
I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to comment below on what surprised you, or to enlighten me on the world of Formula One because I am genuinely interested in how the hell they make so much money.