Australia's almost world champion F1 driver, Mark Weber, ends the year without the title, but with number one on the BRW list and over $13 million (gross salary). When you add the free Red Bull drinks, that is a nice ride. But is it? Considering the many years of sacrifice needed and the constant life-threatening risks involved, would you chase this kind of dream to earn the big dollars?
Earning over $12 million is Melbourne born US NBA player Andrew Bogut. He would be thanking his parents for the genetics that allow him to stand 2m13cm (7ft) tall and earn this sort of money with the Milwaukee Bucks. Again, we see the big dollars but we forget about the years of training and setbacks he has had. For example, he was dropped from the Victorian side as a 15 year old. He spent years training at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra trying to make the big time. Success comes at a cost.
Motocross rider, Chad Reed, rounds out the top three with $7.5 million. Current Australian Cricket Captain, Ricky Ponting, will have to comfort his Ashes dreams with his just under $4 million earnings.
Some notable inclusions in the Top 50: How much would you want to earn for riding your bike over 1000km per week in training and racing stages over 200km up the French Alps? If you are Cadel Evans and have Tour de France and World Championship honours you earn over $2 million. Would that amount of money cover the blood, sweat and tears from all the skin lost after those bike accidents?
Danny Green (boxing) and Mick Fanning (surfing) provide a contrast, with both earning just under $2 million. Green spends hours in the gym punching and being punched, while Fanning is out in the early morning on the Tweed Heads beach perfecting the skills he needs to chase another world surfing title. Who deserves their pay check more?
Former top earner Greg Norman does not make the list for 2010. But don't feel sorry for him and make your "Norman retirement fund" donations just yet. Norman reportedly still earns millions from his various business and property investments.
Our sporting stars have had a long journey to the top. For most it is the love of the game that attracted them to their sport. It is us, the public, that create the interest that brings the demand and big dollars.