It is a topic that has been debated for years now, and with no end in sight, will be debated for many years to come. Some of the richest people we have in this country get to essentially play games they love and get paid millions to do it. The thing we often forget is we do it. We support it, we watch it, and most importantly, we spend the money they receive on it. Still many people think pro athletes make too much money. Do you agree?

The world’s highest-paid athlete is in jail; the one in second place just lost a title fight; and the man who held the top spot for a decade is now third. Forbes has released its list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is No. 1. Mayweather, who made $85 million for two fights last year, is currently serving a three-month jail sentence in Las Vegas for domestic battery. Boxer Manny Pacquiao is second on the list at $62 million from earnings and endorsements. Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight title to Timothy Bradley earlier this month. Tiger Woods, No. 1 on the list since 2001, made $59.4 million to place third. LeBron James of the Miami Heat is fourth with $53 million. He is one of 13 basketball players on the list. Tennis star Roger Federer is fifth at $52.7 million. Only two women make the top 100 – Maria Sharapova ranks No. 26 and fellow tennis ace Li Na comes in at No. 81. Thirty football players made the top 100, with Peyton Manning tops among them at No. 10. The Denver Broncos’ new quarterback made $42.4 million during his last season with the Indianapolis Colts, even though he sat out the entire season while recovering from a neck injury. David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy was No. 8 overall and the highest ranked soccer player at $46 million. New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was tops among baseball players and No. 18 overall with $33 million.

To put things in perspective, here are the minimum salaries in the four major pro sports. This means this is what the guys who warm the bench, and basically never have the chance to actually play in a game make.

  • National Football League - $310,000
  • Major League Baseball - $400,000
  • National Basketball Association - $457,588
  • National Hockey League - $500,000