Lin Dan – Chinese, 27, Badminton (38)
Badminton’s superstar bad boy Lin Dan has won it all, literally. In 2010, by winning at the Asian Championships and Asian Games, Lin became the first player in history to have won all the major titles in badminton and claim the Super Grand Slam. With the London 2012 Olympics coming up, he will without question be among the favourites as he looks to defend the singles title he won in Beijing.
Lin is a colourful figure in the badminton world, widely known for his fiery temperament and effusive celebrations, and has something of a reputation for generating controversy. His recent victory in the first ever US$1 million badminton tournament, the Korea Open, was marred somewhat by allegations of him faking injuries to avoid playing in some of the smaller tournaments on the calendar.
Already holding ten endorsement deals, most notably with Gillette, as badminton’s popularity and commercial performance continue to increase dramatically in China so does Lin Dan’s marketability. A strong showing at the Olympics in 2012, as well as the headlines he continues to make, will enable ‘Super Dan’ to add to the estimated US$1.9 million he earns annually through sponsorship.