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The Ten Most Powerful Athletes in the World According to Forbes Magazine

Every year the good folks at Forbes rank the most powerful athletes in the world.  Endorsements and social capital out weigh athletic performance.

1.  Tiger Woods- No tournament wins since ’09 and falling out of the top ten have not hurt Tiger’s strong hold on top of this list.  He still commands millions in appearance fees and has lucrative deals with Nike and EA.

LeBron James is one of the few athletes in the top ten still in his athletic prime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

2.  Lebron James- The ‘King’ went from hero to villain with one ‘decision’ but his social capital is soaring.  He is in the prime of his career, and has the highest selling jersey and shoe.  In April, he partnered with Fenway Sports Group to manage his business interests.

3.  Kobe Bryant- Unlike Lebron, Kobe appears to be at the twilight of his hall of fame career, but is in the prime of his powerful status.  He is the highest paid player in the NBA and is bigger than Yao Ming in China, figuratively of course.

4.  Roger Federer- Roger’s decade of dominance may be over but he continues to have one of the most diverse portfolios of any athletes.  He has 10 major endorsement deals, and was the only one of Gillette’s original 3 ‘champions’ to have his deal renewed in 2011.

5.  David Beckham- Another guy past his prime cracks the top ten.  Messi may be the best in the world, but Beckham is still the top endorsement earner.  Becks still has lucrative deals with Adidas, Samsung, and the L.A. Galaxy.

6.  Phil Mickelson- Lefty is still at the top his game, and his generations Arnold Palmer.  He is a fan favorite and perfect pitchman.  When Tiger was having numerous affairs, Phil was caring for his cancer stricken wife.

7.  Ronaldo- The second soccer player on this list proving that soccer is the world’s game.  Ronaldo is using social media like The Facebook and Twitter to his advantage and sponsors are taking notice.

8.  Rafael Nadal- With Federer’s best days behind him, Nadal is racking up the endorsement deals.  In 2011 Rafa added Bacardi and Armani to his already impressive portfolio.

A-Rod is the only baseball player in the top ten. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

9.  Alex Rodriguez- A-Rod is the first baseball player on the list.  His $27 million dollar salary combined with his modest endorsements puts him in the top ten.

10.  Tom Brady- Tom terrific is the only NFL player to crack the top ten.  The NFL is the most popular sport in the USA by a long shot but that doesn’t guarantee endorsements.  Brady is now the highest paid player in the game and signed a lucrative deal with Under Armour in November.  He managed to sell his New York condo for $3.5 million more than he paid for it in the height of one of the worst housing markets ever.  He also happens to be married to a Brazilian supermodel.  Life is good for Tom Brady.

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