Phillies' Cliff Lee Is Arkansas' Top Dollar Athlete

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 12:00 am  

From left, Cliff Lee of Benton, Joe Johnson of Little Rock, Torii Hunter of Pine Bluff, A.J. Burnett of North Little Rock and DeAngelo Williams of Wynne.

While Williams was the only football player in the top five, he was one of 21 NFL players among the 35 Arkansas-raised athletes to make the Arkansas Business list. Williams, who was drafted in 2006, ran for 836 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011, when he made $7.7 million.

Darren McFadden ranked just three spots behind Williams for 2012 at $7.8 million. McFadden, drafted out of Arkansas in 2008, saw a significant drop in his salary with the Oakland Raiders from 2011 to 2012.

McFadden, who has dealt with nagging injuries and topped 1,000 yards just once as a pro, earned more than $15 million in 2011. Included in that total was an $8 million bonus that was part of $26 million guaranteed in McFadden’s first contract with the Raiders.

Mark Martin, a Batesville native and 30-year veteran of Nascar, is the highest-paid Arkansan in a sport other than football, baseball or basketball. Martin won $2.78 million in 35 races in 2012.

Stacy Lewis, who played golf for the University of Arkansas, is the highest-paid golfer on the list, coming in at No. 18 with 2012 income of $1.86 million.

The high-paid golfer who is actually from Arkansas is Ken Duke of Hope and Henderson State University at Arkadelphia. Duke earned more than $1.5 million on the PGA Tour in 2012. It was a $1.1 million bump in earnings from his previous season on tour.

Duke was one of 19 athletes who earned at least $1 million in 2012. Bryce Molder, who starred at Conway High before becoming an All-American at Georgia Tech, was the only other golfer to earn $1 million.

Among the top-earning athletes from Arkansas were four who earned big paydays for the first time in their careers. Gosnell’s Jeremy Parnell, a former college basketball player, is making $873,333 in his first full season with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Defensive end Jake Bequette and wide receiver Joe Adams, both former University of Arkansas standouts from Little Rock, are making more than $500,000 annually.

Pitcher Drew Smyly, a Little Rock native who played baseball at the UA, rounds out the list at $480,000.

The highest paid non-native athlete with Arkansas ties is offensive tackle Jason Peters of the Philadelphia Eagles. Peters, who played at the UA, was set to earn $7.9 million this season before being placed on injured reserve.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.