Estimated to be worth $3.3 billion, Spain’s Real Madrid is the world’s most valuable sports franchise, according to a report by Forbes. The professional football (soccer) club during the 2011-12 season enjoyed the highest revenue in sports with $650 million, and it will only see revenue increase after signing advertising deals with Adidas and Emirates this year. Manchester United ($3.165 billion) and Barcelona ($2.6 billion), ranked second and third on the list, showing how popular European football is in the global sports arena.
America’s most successful major league baseball team, the New York Yankees, sits in fourth place with an estimated value of $2.3 billion, while the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys ($2.1 billion) are fifth thanks to being in a league with the highest sponsorship revenues. Rounding out the top 10 most valuable sports franchises are the NFL’s New England Patriots ($1.63 billion), major league baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers ($1.62 billion), the NFL’s Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion), the NFL’s New York Giants ($1.46 billion), and the English Premier (soccer) League’s Arsenal ($1.3 billion).
NFL quarterbacks dominate Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes based on salary and winnings, with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers on top ($43 million), followed by New Orleans’ Drew Brees ($40 million), Baltimore’s Joe Flacco ($35.9 million), and New England’s Tom Brady ($31.3 million), all of whom obtained monstrous contracts after taking their teams to the Super Bowl in recent years. When endorsements are included, Tiger Woods, despite his recent fall from grace, is once again the highest paid at $78.1 million (83 percent from endorsements), followed by tennis great Roger Federer ($71.5 million), the NBA’s Kobe Bryant ($61.9 million), and the NBA’s LeBron James ($59.8 million).
New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez, who has been linked to baseball’s Biogenesis scandal, enjoys the sixth highest salary in sports at $29.8 million. If Major League Baseball can prove Rodriguez’s connection to the Miami clinic that sold performance-enhancing drugs, he will face suspension without pay. Ryan Braun, whose back-weighted contract will pay him an average of $19 million a year starting in 2016, is serving a 65-game suspension without pay for his involvement with Biogenesis. Braun did not appeal the ban, and publicly admitted to making “some mistakes.” Both players have lost significant sponsorship revenue in recent years because of their ties to performance-enhancing drugs. If anything, Rodriguez’s and Braun’s monster contracts prove how financially rewarding cheating can be—until you get caught.