Not One Woman Made This Year’s Forbes ‘100 Highest-Paid Athletes’ List
Forbes has just released its annual list of the top 100 highest paid athletes in the world, and for the first time, it doesn’t include any women.
Tennis legend Serena Williams was the only female on the list last year, ranking No. 51 with $27 million in earnings. But Williams took an absence from the sport to have a child, so her earnings weren’t enough to make this year’s list.
“Williams remained engaged with her partners during the year and banked an estimated $18 million off the court from sponsors Nike, Wilson, Intel, JPMorgan Chase, Lincoln, Gatorade, Beats, and more,” Kurt Badenhausen, a senior editor at Forbes said, “but it wasn’t enough to crack the top 100.”
In recent years, tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Li Na have made the list, but Li retired in 2014 and Sharapova was suspended for 15 months for using a banned substance.
Forbes compiled the list by adding all prize money, salaries, bonuses, and endorsement deals earned between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018.
The No.1 athlete on the list, retired boxer Floyd Mayweather, crushed the competition by making $285 million — more than the No. 2 and No. 3 athletes on the list combined. Nearly all of his 2018 income came from a single 36-minute fight against UFC’s Conor McGregor. McGregor also made this list at No. 4, raking in $99 million.
The absence of any women on the list is made worse by the inclusion of Mayweather at the top. He has a long and disturbing history of physically abusing women. As the #MeToo movement has slowly turned the tide against serial abusers, Mayweather’s continued success serves as a reminder for the world of sports.
According to Forbes, the lack of women on the list has a lot to do with the growing popularity of team sports and related licensing deals as opposed to individual sports, such as golf and tennis, where women having typically earned more endorsements.
“Athletes in team sports make up 82% of the list,” Forbes said. “Salaries in team sports have exploded over the past 25 years as media companies spent billions on TV deals for live sports content.”
But sexism can also explain some of the wage gap as well. The U.S. women’s national soccer team, which generates more revenue than the men’s squad, has recently filed a wage-discrimination complaint against U.S. Soccer in 2016, with claims of being paid one-quarter of what the men make.
In the world of basketball, NBA players are paid about 50% of the league revenue, whereas WNBA players only receive about 33%. “It’s tempting to assume that when we account for the revenue disparity between the NBA and WNBA, the gender wage gap disappears,” David Berri at Vice Sports writes. “Unfortunately, that seems to run counter to the data. Even when we consider differences in revenue, there remains a significant gap between the wages paid to WNBA players and their NBA counterparts.”