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Average earnings drop for US athletes

AVERAGE earnings for leading athletes in the United States have dropped for the first time in six years, according to Sports Illustrated magazine.

In a list of the 50 top-earning American athletes - based on salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees - the mean was down by US$1.5 million to US$23.6 million per athlete.

However, the drop was primarily affected by golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Sports Illustrated reported on Wednesday.

Both Americans failed to match their on-course income in 2008 from the previous season, especially world number one Woods who was sidelined for eight months while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.

Woods earned US$5.775 million on last year's PGA Tour, compared to US$10.867 million in 2007.

Second-ranked Mickelson had a less substantial dropoff, with 2007 PGA Tour earnings of US$5.819 million and US$5.188 million last year.

The top 50 earners comprised 22 basketball players, 14 baseball players, nine NFL players, three golfers and two NASCAR drivers.

Top 10 Earners In US Dollars Among American Athletes, According To Sports Illustrated

1. Tiger Woods (golf) $99,737,626

2. Phil Mickelson (golf) $52,950,356

3. LeBron James (NBA) $42,410,581

4. Alex Rodriguez (baseball) $39,000,000

5. Shaquille O'Neal (NBA) $35,000,000

6. Kevin Garnett (NBA) $34,750,000

7. Kobe Bryant (NBA) $31,262,500

8. Allen Iverson (NBA) $28,937,500

9. Derek Jeter (baseball) $28,500,000

10. Peyton Manning (NFL) $27,000,000


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