By Stewart Panton ... via Quarter-Life Magazine
In the world of athletics, youth is a valuable commodity. Here is an overview of five young outstanding athletes who have succeeded on and off the field.
Top Paid Gen Y Athletes
Lewis Hamilton – Easily one of the best drivers in Formula One right now, Hamilton can make a car move, and he makes it look easy. Recognized by many as possibly the next Michael Schumacher, Hamilton from age 8 has been driving karts and has not stopped progressing since. He has won numerous races and championships including – The British Championship, the Super one series, Formula Renault UK championship, and the GP2 championship. Now this is by no means any small feat as anybody who watches motorsports will tell you.
While doing this he was listed as SI’s 11th highest paid athlete in the world in 2008, and also given the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” title (member level… or MBE), and is in place for a great future in f1.
Michelle Wie – Wie is an American golfer born in Hawaii of Koren parentage, who started playing golf at the young age of 4. (Yes–while you were busy discussing which power ranger was cooler, Wie was playing a golf.) In the year 2000 at 10, she became the youngest player to qualify for the womens US Amateur Public Links Championship, a year later she won the Hawaii Women’s Stroke Play Championship and the Jennie K. Wilson women’s invitational.
Her early wins at many events and drew the eyes of sponsors throughout her youth, and eventually in to 2005, when she decided to go professional, signing sponsorship deals with Nike and Sony. She later signed a deal with Omega Watch Company raking in (reported in 2007) over $19 million dollars a year from sponsorship alone. Currently ranked 14th in the world, which may bring naysayers, Wie is only 20 and she has a bright golf future ahead of her.
Lionel Messi – A name most Americans will say, “huh…who?” when they hear. Despite that, Lionel Messi is a world renowned name in the football (soccer) world. Messi, an Argentinian football player who currently plays for Spanish La Liga giants, Barcelona. Messi has been receiving accolades from a young age, winning world young player of the year awards for 3 consecutive years between 2006-2008. He has also been regarded as Sports Illustrated’s 4thhighest paid player in 2008 raking in over $35 million dollars a year, a minority of that figure which comes from endorsements by companies like Adidas. He is also estimated to be worth a transfer fee equal to or more than Christiano Ronaldo’s, aka: £80 million pounds.
Lebron James – Come on, you cant tell me you didn’t expect to see this name on the list. Lebron james is right now at the top of the basketball world, I mean seriously, his nickname is King James. At age 18 (2003) he was the number 1 draft pick and had already signed a shoe deal with Nike – the monetary value of which I will tell you later. He has won numerous awards including Rookie of the year (2003), Most valuable player (2008), and has also been both an NBA all star for every season since 2005. In addition internationally he has also won Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing games and bronze in the 2004 Olympics. Now remember that Nike Sponsorship deal I spoke about earlier? That was for $90 Million dollars, but he also has endorsements with Sprite, Glaceau, Bubbilicious, Upper Deck and State Farm. Sports Illustrated estimates that James made over $167 million during his first 5 seasons in the NBA and currently places his yearly earnings at $40 million most of which come from endorsements. The man is simply a ball playing, money making fiend.