June 30, 2007 Forbes magazine released its annual Celebrity 100 list recently, noting that golfer Tiger Woods banked US$100 million in the last year, becoming the first athlete in history to do so. Woods is the perfect corporate ambassador, being handsome, charming, beautifully spoken, dominant in a major TV sport and black, giving him a commercial edge in that his sponsors are perceived to be inclusive of minorities. SportBusiness International Magazine once forecast that Woods could be the first athlete to earn a billion dollars in a year given he had all the boxes ticked and global TV sport was emerging as a gargantuan money spinner given that it’s the only time-critical news you can pre-sell. Remarkably, a new sports star has rocketed from obscurity who will almost certainly push his way onto next year’s Celebrity 100 and might well elbow his way past Woods as sport’s highest money earner in the next round of sponsorship negotiations. Unknown three months ago, Lewis Hamilton’s sporting career has begun more spectacularly than any other in history … in any sport.
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