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The top-earning non-American athletes

By Jonah Freedman, SI.com

It's boom time for foreign-born athletes. Despite the slow economy, the average earnings of the top 20 non-American sportsmen are at an all-time high $29.5 million. Of those 20, only four play in U.S.-based leagues, led by perennial powerhouse David Beckham, who is back in Major League Soccer with the Los Angeles Galaxy at least through the end of this season.

Internationally, soccer and Formula 1 racing are catching up with the high-paying NBA and Major League Baseball in terms of payout. Six Europe-based footballers in addition to Becks make this year's list, while four F1 drivers also take the checkered flag here with earnings in excess of $20 million each.

In all, this year's list features seven soccer players, five motor-sports racers, two NBA stars, two golfers, two tennis players, one baseball player and one boxer. As always, our list includes salary, bonuses, endorsement income and appearance fees. For the Fortunate 50 list of the top-earning American athletes, click here.

1
David Beckham
Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Great Britain
Last Year's Rank: 1
$45,200,000
2
Kimi Räikkönen
Auto Racing
Finland
Last Year's Rank: 2
$40,100,000
3
Manny Pacquiao
Boxing
Philippines
Last Year's Rank: NR
$40,000,000
4
Lionel Messi
FC Barcelona (Soccer)
Argentina
Last Year's Rank: 4
$39,900,000
5
(Tie)
Fernando Alonso
Auto Racing
Spain
Last Year's Rank: 6
$35,000,000
5
(Tie)
Valentino Rossi
Motor Sports
Italy
Last Year's Rank: 7
$35,000,000
7
Yao Ming
Houston Rockets (NBA)
China
Last Year's Rank: 8
$33,070,550
8
Lewis Hamilton
Auto Racing
Great Britain
Last Year's Rank: 11
$32,800,000
9
Roger Federer
Tennis
Switzerland
Last Year's Rank: 5
$29,561,341
10
Vijay Singh
Pro Golf
Fiji
Last Year's Rank: NR
$28,681,028
11
Ronaldinho
AC Milan (soccer)
Brazil
Last Year's Rank: 3
$27,400,000
12
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid (soccer)
Portugal
Last Year's Rank: 9
$25,500,000
13
Sergio García
Pro Golf
Spain
Last Year's Rank: NR
$24,976,830
14
Thierry Henry
FC Barcelona (Soccer)
France
Last Year's Rank: 9
$23,700,000
15
Ichiro Suzuki
Seattle Mariners (MLB)
Japan
Last Year's Rank: 10
$22,500,000
16
Dirk Nowitzki
Dallas Mavericks (NBA)
Germany
Last Year's Rank: 18
$22,077,904
17
Maria Sharapova
Tennis
Russia
Last Year's Rank: 13
$21,937,879
18
(Tie)
Jenson Button
Auto Racing
Great Britain
Last Year's Rank: NR
$21,100,000
18
(Tie)
Kaká
Real Madrid (soccer)
Brazil
Last Year's Rank: 19
$21,100,000
20
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Inter Milan (soccer)
Sweden
Last Year's Rank: NR
$19,500,000
 
Sources: Salaries, winnings and bonus figures from players' associations, tour records, agents and news reports. Endorsement estimates from Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, other sports-marketing executives and analysts, and agents. Salaries based on current or most recently completed seasons. For winnings-based sports (golf, tennis), 2008 calendar year amounts used. Boxing purses are from July '08 to June '09.
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