ESPN released its list of the 25 Top-Paid Athletes In The World on Monday. Noticeably absent from that list are any NASCAR drivers. Formula 1 is the lone representative of motorsports, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who both came in tied at #12 with $27.5 million per year.
To be sure, base salaries tell only part of the story. With sponsorships, endorsements, and licensing, all drivers have the potential to add tens of millions of dollars to what they earned directly from racing.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver based on fan surveys, also ranks as its highest-paid driver. According to Forbes, Earnhardt received $14.6 million in salary and winnings, just over half of his total haul of $25.6 million with endorsements and licensing fees included. But even Earnhardt’s overall cash score doesn’t eclipse the earnings strictly on the track for Hamilton and Alonso.
When licensing and other earnings are factored in, NASCAR is well represented in the top 10 motorsports earners, taking 5 of the top 10 spots. For top tier racers, in both F1 and NASCAR, the sky is the limit on earnings potential. Seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher is ranked #2 all-time in total earnings with a staggering $823 million earned over his career, second only to Tiger Woods’ $869 million.