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THE 2008 FORTUNATE 50
11
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Auto Racing
Last Year's Rank: 10
$5,221,970
$22,000,000
$27,221,970

Maybe try one meeellion next time? Junior laughed off Eddie Gossage's $100,000 offer to race in the IndyCar series, calling him Dr. Evil: "His first estimate ... was a little underfigured."

12
Allen Iverson
Denver Nuggets (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 11
$20,109,375
$7,000,000
$27,109,375

The Nuggets are reportedly willing to sign A.I. to a multi-year extension (for less money) if he opts out of the last year of his six-year, $71 million contract -- he'd earn $21.9 million in '08-09.

13
Kevin Durant
Seattle SuperSonics (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: NR
$4,300,000
$21,650,000
$25,950,000

The 2007-08 Rookie of the Year will have to wait three more seasons for a giant contract, but his $7 million-a-year deal with Nike included a $12 million signing bonus.

14
Jeff Gordon
Auto Racing
Last Year's Rank: 16
$10,926,687
$15,000,000
$25,926,687

Despite a second-place finish in the NASCAR standings, Gordon collected a career-high in racing money in '07: $7.1 million in track winnings and another $3.3 million from the points fund.

15
Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL)
Last Year's Rank: NR
$22,700,000
$2,500,000
$25,200,000

It's the gift that keeps on giving. Big Ben rakes in $20.2 million of his $25.2 million signing bonus during calendar-year '08; the rest is due next season, plus a $3 million roster bonus.

16
Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 40
$13,041,250
$12,000,000
$25,041,250

D-Wade just raised the bar for sons everywhere: For Mother's Day, the Heat star bought his Baptist pastor mom, Jolinda, her very own church on the South Side of Chicago.

17
Tracy McGrady
Houston Rockets (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 13
$19,014,187
$6,000,000
$25,014,187

T-Mac is reportedly looking to graduate from his 18,000-square foot home in suburban Houston, which boasts seven bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, an elevator, a boat dock and an indoor court.

18
Carmelo Anthony
Denver Nuggets (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: NR
$13,041,250
$9,500,000
$22,541,250

Construction got underway last month on the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center practice facility at Syracuse University, thanks to a $3 million donation from its famous namesake alum.

19
Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 18
$19,014,187
$3,500,000
$22,514,187

Duncan reportedly accepted $10 million less than what he was eligible for in his two-year, $40 million extension signed in October so the Spurs would be able to chase free agents.

20
Manny Ramirez
Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Last Year's Rank: 20
$20,000,000
$2,500,000
$22,500,000

The World Series champs have a $20 million option on the enigmatic Manny for the '09 season; if they decline it, they'd have to deal with his new agent: infamous hardballer Scott Boras.

1 2 3 4 5
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 (exception: 2008 for NFL). For winnings-based sports (auto racing, golf, tennis), 2007 calendar year amounts used.
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