BLUE-CHIP NBA export Andrew Bogut is still Australia's highest sports earner, banking an estimated $13.5 million this year.
The Business Review Weekly (BRW) magazine has released its top 50 sports earners for 2012, with former No. 1 draft pick Bogut maintaining his position from 2011, despite sustaining a serious ankle injury that prevented him from playing regularly with his new team, the Golden State Warriors.
His mega pay packet surpassed that of formula one driver Mark Webber ($12 million), the world's No. 7-ranked golfer Adam Scott ($10.5 million), two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner ($8 million) and Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke ($5.5 million) in the top five.
Of the top 10 names on the list, 30-year-old soccer player Luke Wilkshire, who earned $5 million primarily for playing with Russian club Dynamo Moscow, and US Major League relief pitcher Grant Balfour, who made $4 million in his role with the Oakland Athletics team, were the surprise inclusions.
There were 10 golfers on the list – the most of any sport – including Scott, Jason Day, Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy, John Senden, Marc Leishman, Greg Chalmers, Mark Fraser, Brendan Jones, and Peter Senior – and that despite the fact Leishman was the only Australian to win an event on the PGA Tour this year.
Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett was the highest-earning AFL player in 2012 when sponsorship deals were factored in, adding up to a $2 million pay day – worth position No. 25 on the list.
However it was Tom Scully, who signed a massive deal to leave Melbourne for expansion club Greater Western Sydney, who earned the biggest salary this season, pulling in $1.8 million (No. 34)
Code-hopper Israel Folau (No. 36), who recently decided to leave Australian football, earned $1.5 million in his agreement with GWS this year, while Carlton superstar Chris Judd was the other footballer to make the top 50, coming in at No. 45 with $1.2 million.
The lowest-profile sportsperson on the list is Olympic show jumper Edwina Tops-Alexander, who earned $1.5 million in 2012 (No. 38), due not only to her equestrian exploits but also her lucrative endorsement deals with Gucci and Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre.
She was one of only two women on the list, with tennis star Samantha Stosur ($2.5 million) entering the list at No. 20.
There were nine cricketers on the list – many earning big pay packets from Twenty20 deals – yet only one rugby union player at No. 46, George Smith ($1.2 million), who plays professionally in Japan and France.