By Frank Pingue
Sept 18 (Reuters) – The world's highest-paid athletes are a much richer & more international group than those who dominated the same list 20 years ago, Forbes said on Friday.
The top 40 earners in sport over the last year combined to earn $1.9 billion in prize money, salary & endorsements, up significantly from the $490 million made by the highest earners in 1995, according to Forbes.
p> Among those on the current list, 21 were born outside the United States, including four of the top five. By comparison, former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany, ranked ninth, was highest among the eight non-Americans who made the 1995 list.
There is moreover a much heavier dose of soccer players in the 2015 list compared to 20 years ago, which Forbes attributed to a 1995 court decision that allowed players whose contracts were up to switch teams without a transfer fee.
American Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose fight with Manny Pacquiao in May was the richest bout in boxing history, was the runaway leader atop the current Forbes list with total earnings of $300 million during the 12-month period ending in June.
Mayweather's earnings shattered the previous mark held by American golfer Tiger Woods, who banked $115 million in 2008, according to Forbes.
Filipino Pacquiao ($160 million), soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo (79.6 million) & Lionel Messi ($73.8 million) & 17-times grand slam-winning Swiss tennis player Roger Federer ($67 million) rounded out the top five.
In 1995, Hall of Fame basketball player Michael Jordan topped the list with $43.9 million in earnings, followed by boxer Mike Tyson, American football & baseball player Deion Sanders, boxer Riddick Bowe & basketball's Shaquille O'Neal.
For the complete list visit: (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2015/09/18/the-highest-paid-athletes-of-1995-vs-today/) (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)
Sports & RecreationForbesMichael Schumacher