Alex Rodriguez may be one of the least popular players in professional sports, but he's also the richest. According to a recent story in "ESPN The Magazine," A-Rod is the highest paid athlete in the world, bringing in an astonishing yearly salary of $32,000,000. With an income like that, it's no wonder he's so disliked.

The New York Yankee isn’t the only pro bringing in big money. In the NBA, Kobe Bryant continued to be the top earner, raking in $24,800,000 for the 2011 season. The Los Angeles Laker was recently fined $100,000 for using a derogatory slur against a referee during a game. It's a whopping sum, but seems less impressive when considering his paycheck.

Not all top professionals are living large though. Iditarod champ John Baker claimed $50,400 in the big sled race. While Shannon Pluhowsky, the top female bowler in America, rolled her way to $40,300 in prize money in 2010.

Some unexpected earners include Finnish race car driver Kimi Raikkonen. The 32-year-old champion earned an amazing $26,333,333 last year, putting him at the head of the pack for drivers. Darts champion Phil Taylor did surprisingly well, too, garnering prize money totaling $1,044,000.

For the rest of this year's highest paid athletes, check out ESPN.

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