The switch, however, has had little effect on his earning power. His total income may have dropped from the $36m he earned last year, but he is still by far the best-paid sportsman for the third year in succession. Another basketball player, Shaquille O'Neal, came closest to matching Jordan's earnings this year with $16.7m.
The figures are revealed in the annual list of the 40 highest-paid sportsmen compiled by the US magazine Forbes. It shows earnings from playing and those from endorsements and appearance fees.
Off-the-field activities account for the vast majority of the income of most of the leading earners - Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer may no longer be leading contenders on the golf course, but their business acumen remains untouched. Between them they won only $400,000 this year, but their off-course earnings totalled $28.4m. The sportsmen earning the most directly from sport were Gerhard Berger (motor racing) and Michael Moorer (boxing).
As if women did not need confirmation that big-money sport is a man's world, only two women, both tennis players, appear in the top 40. Steffi Graf makes 19th place with $8m and Gabriela Sabatini 39th place with $4.9m.
Nigel Mansell, in 10th place, is the highest paid British sportsman in the list at $11.3m.
Footballers are sport's poor relations. Only one footballer, the Italian Roberto Baggio, makes the list, scraping into 35th place with $5.3m.
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