ESPN The Magazine recently released a list of the “Best Paid Athletes in 30 Sports.” Tops on the list for mixed martial artists was no surprise; it was former WWE Superstar and former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
The numbers listed were for official base salary or earnings from the most recently completed season or calendar year, and did not include endorsements, appearance fees, sponsorship money or other such sources of income.
In Lesnar’s case, his earnings for 2010 were listed at $5.3 million. That number only includes his salary as reported to the athletic commissions and an estimate on what he made from pay-per-view bonuses. Lesnar likely earned other bonuses, and of course, had numerous endorsements and other sources of income that were not in the tally.
While dwarfing several other sports’ top earners, that number barely puts a dent in the earnings of the top dogs in the major sports in the United States. Alex Rodriguez in baseball and Manny Pacquiao in boxing both made a reported $32 million each, while Kobe Bryant pulled down $24.8 million in the NBA, and the NFL’s Peyton Manning earned $15.8 million.
Lesnar’s earnings, at $5.3 million, were still a tremendous jump forward from what UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie earned for his victory at UFC 1. Gracie won three fights that night in a tournament format to rake in $50,000.