Sure, playing the sport you love professionally and being wildly popular amongst all men and women is fun but. . . what’s the pay like!?

Well if your name is Tiger or your paychecks say ‘NBA’ on them, it’s probably pretty damn good. Sports Illustrated released it’s yearly ‘Fortunate 50’ list of the American athletes earning the most money. The list factors in on-field salaries plus off-the-field endorsements.

The article on SI.com, asks what happened to all the ladies?:

No one can touch Tiger Woods, the runaway No. 1 for the fifth year in a row. Tiger’s near $128 million haul is more than double his closest pursuer, Phil Mickelson at $62.4 million. As usual, hoops dominates the 50: More than half this year’s list is made up of NBA players. There are 10 baseball players, seven football players, three NASCAR drivers, three golfers and one boxer — and yet zero women.

In recent years this race has basically become a contest to see which non-golfers make the list. Check out the full list and some of the missing big names after the jump.

1 – Tiger Woods
Pro Golf
Last Year’s Rank: 1
$22,902,706 – salary/winnings
+$105,000,000 – endorsements
$127,902,706

2 – Phil Mickelson
Pro Golf
Last Year’s Rank: 3
$9,372,685 – salary/winnings
+$53,000,000 – endorsements
$62,372,685

3 – LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 6
$12,455,000 – salary
+$28,000,000 – endorsements
$40,455,000

4 – Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Boxing
Last Year’s Rank: 22
$20,000,000 – salary/winnings
+$20,250,000 – endorsements
$40,250,000

5 – Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 5
$19,490,625 – salary
+$16,000,000 – endorsements
$35,490,625

6 – Shaquille O’Neal
Phoenix Suns (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 4
$20,000,000 – salary
+$15,000,000 – endorsements
$35,000,000

7 – Alex Rodriguez
New York Yankees (MLB)
Last Year’s Rank: 11
$29,000,000 – salaray
+$6,000,000 – endorsements
$35,000,000

8 – Kevin Garnett
Boston Celtics (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 7
$22,000,000 – salary
+$9,000,000 – endorsements
$31,000,000

9 – Peyton Manning
Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
Last Year’s Rank: 12
$17,500,000 – salary
+$13,000,000 – endorsements
$30,500,000

10 – Derek Jeter
New York Yankees (MLB)
Last Year’s Rank: 8
$22,000,000 – salary
+$8,000,000 – endorsements
$30,000,000

Also of note: Eli Manning, the current SuperBowl champ made the list, but is way down at #50. Maybe he’ll be able to score a few of his brother’s big endorsements. But do we really need more Mannings on TV?

And what about Shaq? That fatso hasn’t done crap all year. He’s dragging more ass now than he was in the movies Kazaam and Blue Chips combined.

Some other stipulations were that the sports star had to be an American citizen to make the list. That’s why David Beckham, Ronaldinho, Roger Federer, and Ichiro Suzuki don’t pop up.

You can find them on the International Top 20 List. Interestingly, if David Beckham were considered on the American list he would sit at #3 right after Phil Mickelson and before King James with his $48 million a year salary+ endorsements+ hot wife.

Better luck next year, Ping Pong and Badminton players of the world. Your day will come.

Sports Illustrated: Fortunate 50, June 2008