Lewis Hamilton, Two Other F1 Champions Among 20 Highest Paid Athletes In World

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For race fans, it makes perfect sense that drivers are paid a lot, as they put themselves at risk of serious injury every time they get inside their cars. But people who think racers just sit there and turn a steering wheel might be surprised to learn just how much they earn.

Forbes announced its annual list of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world Tuesday, and three Formula One world champions cracked the top 20. The three drivers, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, made last year’s list as well, though all of them have moved up several spots.

The only F1 pilot who made the top 100 in 2016, but not in 2017, was Nico Rosberg, who hung up his helmet after winning last year’s world championship. Here’s where Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso ranked among some of the biggest names in sports:

10. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas

After securing the No. 11 spot in 2016, Hamilton finally cracked the top 10 this year. The three-time world champion raked in a total of $46 million, $38 million of which was comprised of his salary from Mercedes-AMG Petronas and his winnings from F1. Hamilton, who’s marketable both in the U.K. and the United States, earned $8 million from endorsements.

14. Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

Photo via Ferrari

Vettel moved up five spots from last year, with his earnings totaling $38.5 million. Both Vettel and Hamilton interestingly each received $38 million from their salaries and winnings, but the German earns one-sixteenth as much from endorsements. Unlike Hamilton, who heavily promotes himself on social media, Vettel keeps his life away from the track private, decreasing his marketability.

20. Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

Photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

Alonso jumped from No. 24 to No. 20 this year, but he likely will be higher on this list in 2018. Forbes lists his total pay at $36 million — $34 million from salary and winnings, and $2 million from endorsements — but that likely doesn’t include his winnings from the Indianapolis 500. What’s more, Alonso’s popularity in the U.S. has skyrocketed from his Indy 500 attempt. He currently is the most marketable in his home country of Spain, but American sponsors probably will be drawn to him moving forward.

Thumbnail photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas

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