Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton ranked among world’s highest-paid athletes

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ranks as the seventh-highest paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ranks as the seventh-highest paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Leading the Carolina Panthers to a franchise-best record last season and to the team’s second-ever Super Bowl appearance is paying off for quarterback Cam Newton.

The reigning NFL MVP made an estimated $53.1 million in the past year, according to Forbes, making him the seventh highest-paid athlete in the world.

The majority of Newton’s pay, which includes a $41.1 million salary and $12 million in endorsements from brands like Dannon, Under Armour, Gatorade and Beats by Dre, came from the $22.5 million bonus he got last June when he and the team reached a five-year extension worth $103.8 million.

Newton, the No. 1 draft pick in 2011 out of Auburn, was the top-earning NFL player ahead of No. 13 Eli Manning, No. 14 Joe Flacco and No. 15 Tom Brady.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list with an estimated $88 million. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi ($81.4 millon) ranks second while Cleveland Cavaliers forward Lebron James ($77.2 million) is third. Tennis star Roger Federer (No. 4), Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (No. 5) and top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic (No. 6) also sit ahead of Newton.

Golfers Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth and former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant round out the top 10, respectively.

Linebacker Luke Kuechly is the only other Panther in the top 100, coming in at No. 44 with an estimated $27.1 million.

Golden State Warriors guard and former Davidson star Stephen Curry, who grew up in Charlotte, made an estimated $23.6 million and ranked 69th on the list.

NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson also made the list. Earnhardt (No. 71) earned an estimated $23.5 million while Johnson (No. 82) made $22.2 million.

Tennis star Serena Williams was the highest-paid female athlete on the list, ranking No. 44 with $28.9 million in total pay. The only other woman on the list was Maria Sharapova, who ranked No. 88 with $21.9 million.

Forbes, which ranked the 100 highest-paid athletes from 23 countries competing in 10 sports, includes salaries, bonuses, endorsement income, licensing income and appearance fees for a 12-month period beginning on June 1, 2015 in its earnings estimates.

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