The sports stars who earn more than footballers

Sarah Coles
Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Practice Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Practice Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

The amount that footballers get paid a sensitive subject for many people. They're liable to get angry when they read that Wayne Rooney is worth £60 million, Rio Ferdinand £44 million or that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are worth £37 million each. There's a good chance that they'll complain that there are surely more important jobs that deserve better rewards than a bunch of overgrown boys kicking a ball around. Meanwhile, however, there's a group of elite sportsmen making far more money who are entirely overlooked.

Lewis Hamilton
The Sunday Times Rich List named the highest-earning sports star in the UK as Lewis Hamilton - who they said was worth £68 million. The Formula 1 star has amassed much of this from his racing salary, which pays out at least £45 million over four years, but could be worth as much as £60 million with race bonuses. He also has some endorsement deals, which are said to make him around £1.8 million a year.

What is perhaps most surprising about our lack of concern about the huge sums Lewis Hamilton makes, is the fact that he is a tax exile in Switzerland. He says he lives overseas for privacy reasons, but it can't hurt that he's saving millions of pounds in tax at the same time.

Jenson Button

The second richest British sportsman is another F1 driver: Jenson Button. He's said to be worth a staggering £60 million. By far the majority of his pay comes from his driver salary - which is said to be almost £13 million a year, with the rest made up in endorsements and sponsorship.

He hits the headlines occasionally for buying and selling incredibly expensive cars, and was nicknamed JetSet Jenson for his lifestyle in the early days. However, nowadays, he keeps himself to himself in his enormous property portfolio, behind the wheel of his many super cars or on his expensive yacht.

Steve Nash
It's no wonder no-one has thought to get annoyed at his vast sporting wealth, because there will be plenty of people who have no idea who Nash is (he's an LA Lakers basketball player with dual British and Canadian nationality).

While being busy playing a sport that few Brits follow, he has been quietly amassing a fortune through his contract (worth 16 million over five years) and a range of endorsements from Raymond Weil watches to Clearly Canadian bottled water, Nike, and Bridgestone tyres. He's now said to be worth £56 million.

Andy Murray

Murray is worth a total of £40 million, and makes it to number six on the list of the best-paid British sports stars. It means he's behind Wayne Rooney (in third place) and Rio Ferdinand (fifth), but out-earns Steven Gerard and Frank Lampard (joint 7th).

And while everything from his dour approach to his mother have come in for more than their share of criticism, his earnings don't seem to particularly bother anyone.

Around £18 million of this has been prize money - and who could argue that he hasn't had to work for that cash? The rest is largely the result of sponsorship and endorsements of everyone from RBS to Adidas, Head, and Rado watches. He recently invested in a luxury hotel near Dunblane in Scotland as well, but it's too early to say whether this will prove a significant money-spinner.

Interestingly both Murray and Hamilton are managed by Simon Fuller - credited with the successful management of David Beckham and the Spice Girls - who has helped boost their financial success.

These sports stars are clearly at the top of their game, making the most of their potential in what tend to be short careers - but are they really more deserving of their wealth than footballers?

Why is it that we're happy to let these stars get on with the business of amassing a fortune, while we rail against the money being paid to football stars?

What do you think?

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