The mega free agent contract Stephon Gilmore recently signed with the New England Patriots vaulted him into Forbes’ list of the top-100 paid pro athletes in the world, released earlier this week.
Gilmore checked in at No. 39 in the list, ahead of notable stars like Cam Newton, Dustin Johnson, Serena Williams, Panthers offensive lineman Matt Kalil, Charlotte Hornets player Nic Batum and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gilmore made $29.3 million this past year, according to Forbes’ accounting.
Not surprising given Gilmore’s reserved nature, only $200,000 of that figure comes from endorsements. Forbes reached its totals by adding up earnings from June 1, 2016 through June 1, 2017. Endorsement figures were educated estimates made after talking with industry insiders.
Cristiano Ronaldo ($93 million), LeBron James ($86.2 million), Lionel Messi ($80 million), Roger Federer ($64 million) and Kevin Durant ($60.6 million) round out the top-five. Federer and James both make over $50 million from endorsements alone.
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Gilmore left the Buffalo Bills after five seasons to join division rival and defending Super Bowl champs New England after signing a five-year, $65 million agreement. This week he made his first on-field appearances for the Patriots, drawing positive reviews after some interesting - and successful for Gilmore - tangles with fellow free agent signing, receiver Brandin Cooks.
“When I put the helmet on that's when I really felt like a Patriot for the first time,” Gilmore told reporters on Thursday. “I'm just having fun. I'm happy I'm here and ready to do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Fifteen NFL players made Forbes’ top-100 list. Gilmore was the 11th-youngest member of the top-100. Williams was the only female in the top-100. Twenty-one different countries were represented. Johnson and Gilmore were the only ones from South Carolina.
Gilmore is Rock Hill’s second-ever representative on the exclusive list. Houston Texans cornerback and Northwestern High grad Johnathan Joseph made the cut in 2012, reaching No. 85.
Correction: an earlier version of this story had unintentionally inflated earnings for Gilmore, Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer and Kevin Durant. The current version reflects the accurate earnings.