Earnhardt leads NASCAR drivers on Forbes World’s 100 highest paid athletes

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/TheDarkKnightRises/National Guard/ Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew chief Steve Letarte in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 17, 2012 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/TheDarkKnightRises/National Guard/ Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew chief Steve Letarte in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 17, 2012 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Three Hendrick Motorsports drivers made the list of Forbes World’s 100 highest paid athletes. NASCAR’s most popular driver for nearly a decade, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who broke a 143 race winless streak last Sunday at Michigan, comes in 23rd on the list with total earnings last year on $28.2 million.

According to Forbes, $13.2 million came from salary and winnings and $15 million came from endorsements. The total is down slightly from the $29 million Forbes said Earnhardt earned in 2010 and the $30 million he earned in 2009. In 2008, the year Earnhardt began with Hendrick Motorsports, he earned $35 million.

Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon isn’t even close to Earnhardt; Gordon is 42nd on the list with earnings last year of $23.6 million. A third member of the Hendrick stable, five time champion Jimmie Johnson, came in 53rd with 2011 earnings of $21.5 million. MORE>>>

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.