Big earners: Highest paid NZ sportsmen revealed

04:48, Dec 30 2012
Russell Coutts
REASON TO SMILE: Russell Coutts is New Zealand's highest earning sportsperson by a significant margin.

Russell Coutts $13.4m (sailing)

Coutts' income from American sailing outfit Oracle reflects his administrative role as team chief executive. However, as helmsman Coutts is also an active crew member - qualifying him for our list.

Yachties traditionally dominate Kiwi sport's big earners and while Dean Barker would have enjoyed serious financial success in 2012, the vast majority would be from business interests completely separate from the sporting realm. In terms of remuneration, Barker's job as Team New Zealand skipper is understood to be comparable to that of the average All Black. Brad Butterworth meanwhile, has had a quiet year and is not known to be involved with any current America's Cup campaign.

Ryan Nelsen
QPR: Ryan Nelsen in action for his EPL side in their draw with Everton.

Ryan Nelsen $5.2m (football)

Understood to be earning at least £50,000 ($100,000) per week at Queens Park Rangers, the veteran Premier League footballer also has a growing number of off-field business interests as the 35-year-old starts to consider life beyond professional football. Nelsen is a director in sports marketing company ROAR and Tridingo NZ Limited, a venture with former All Whites team-mate Simon Elliott. This year the All Whites captain has also used his profile to launch a wine range.

Sonny Bill Williams $2.5m (rugby/boxing)


Sonny Bill Williams
MILLION DOLLAR MAN: Sonny Bill Williams' return to the NRL has finally been approved.

A 12-game Japanese club deal, worth a reputed $1.2m, has been the driving force behind Williams' 2012 earnings. The other half has been supplemented by a short contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union, boxing payments and lucrative endorsement deals. Sporting aspect aside, revenue from boxing cards and pay-per-view sales has become increasingly valuable to Williams' revenue stream.

Dan Carter $2.5m (rugby)

A near-million dollar deal with the New Zealand Rugby Union and another All Black able to lever his brand off product endorsements. Helped by boyish good looks, Carter's commercial pulling power is exploited on billboards advertising underwear all over the world.

Richie McCaw $2m (rugby)

Proof that Kiwi rugby stars can make big bucks on home soil, McCaw's contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union is worth the thick end of $1 million and his wholesome image as All Blacks captain helps rake in commercial dollars from several sources. Making 2012 a particularly lucrative year for McCaw have been excellent global book sales - earning him more than $500,000.

Scott Dixon $1.5 (motorsport)

One of only two IndyCar drivers to top the million dollar mark in 2012, the majority of Dixon's winnings came thanks to a runner-up finish in May's Indy 500. Dixon's season tally was roughly half that of Scotland's series winner Dario Franchitti, but still enough to again rank two-time IndyCar champion Dixon among the year's top Kiwi sports earners.

Ross Taylor $1.5m (cricket)

An existing Indian Premier League deal worth $1.3m has been boosted by a leading deal with New Zealand Cricket, worth over $110,000, captain's bonuses and match fees. Having lost the captaincy however, Taylor's financial pulling power could be at its peak.

Jerome Kaino $1.4m (rugby)

A massive, post-World Cup deal in Japanese rugby has transformed Kaino from Blues player and All Black to one of the biggest earners in New Zealand sport. Earning roughly as much as Sonny Bill Williams on-field, Kaino's commercial and supplementary income is considerably less.

Brendon McCullum $1.1m (cricket)

The Black Caps captaincy doesn't just bring prestige, it also brings cash. Likely to have been given a pay rise since taking the helm, these days McCullum is also eligible for captain's bonuses as well as match fees from New Zealand Cricket. On top of a $900,000 Indian Premier League deal, it's been a good year for McCullum's bank balance.

Benji Marshall $1.1 (rugby league)

Half of Marshall's income is earned on-field with the other half consisting of media and endorsement deals. The Kiwis captain boosts his earnings with a regular slot on an Australian television show and is also a columnist for Fairfax Media.

Sunday Star Times