Forbes recently released its lists of highest-earners across categories. While Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar made it to the list of top-earning male actors, PV Sindhu made it to the highest-earning female athlete. Virat Kohli too was ranked as one of the highest earning athletes. These earnings are nothing short of a signifier for success as they highlight how the past year has been for these celebrities and sportstars. Be it career-wise or through endorsements, raking in the moolah is a sign of the good times.
However, what these lists also show is the appalling wage gap between equals of the opposing genders.
One could easily argue that these earnings are not only fed by on-field performances but also demand from the audience that decides appearances and endorsements. But must we not ask why we would rather see a male athlete endorsing a sporting brand than a female athlete or why should the male lead in a franchise earn more than his female counterpart?
To begin with, Forbes released a list of 100 top-earning athletes in the world. The entire list only had men from basketball, football, tennis, boxing, MMA, auto racing, golf, baseball, track and cricket. Let it sink in - one hundred names and not a single woman. Forbes also released a separate list of highest-earning "women athletes", whose earnings, quite frankly, seem like a game of Monopoly when compared to the men's.
Topping the list of highest-paid athletes is Floyd Mayweather, with total earnings of $285 million, out of which he made $275 million from winnings and another $10 million from endorsements. The highest-ranking male tennis player is Roger Federer who made a total of $77.2 million out of which $12.2 million were from winnings and a whopping $65 million - the highest in the list - from endorsements. The last name to feature on the list is basketball player Nicolas Batum with total earnings of $22.9 million, out of which he pocketed $22.4 million from winnings and $500,000 from endorsements.
On the other hand, the highest paid woman athlete is the legendary tennis player Serena Willliams whose prowess on the field makes her one of the best athletes in the world. Williams recorded total earnings of $18.1 million, out of which she made $18 million from endorsements and $62,000 from winnings. Williams' winnings seem meager because she went on a hiatus of 14 months after announcing that she was expecting her first child. Even so, she fared better than Caroline Wozniacki who made $13 million in total, out of which $7 million were from winnings and $6 million were from endorsements.
Virat Kohli is the only Indian and only cricketer to feature on the list at the 83rd spot. He made $24 million last year, out of which $4 million came from winnings and a significant $20 million came from endorsements. The only Indian to feature on the highest-paid women athletes list is badminton star PV Sindhu who made $8.5 million in total, out of which $8 million were from endorsements and $500,000 from winnings. No woman cricket player made it to the list.
The gap is as wide when it comes to movies.
The highest-earning actor is George Clooney who made $239 million last year. His last movie was the Coen brothers' film, Suburbicon in 2017 that failed to impress the audience and bowed out of the theatres without making any impression. Clooney, however, made most of his money last year by selling off his tequila company Casamigos to British liquor giant, Diego. Now, if movies and endorsements are the only parameters looked upon, then Dwayne Johnson emerges as the highest paid actor with $124 million. On the other hand, the highest-paid actress is Scarlett Johansson, who made less than half of what Johnson made last year - $40 million.
The last name on the list of highest-paid actors is Chris Evans, who made $34 million last year, while the last name on the list of highest-paid actresses is Gal Gadot who made only $10 million.
The figures tell the tale by itself. To reiterate, the US Census Board released a report in 2017 highlighting that for every dollar earned by men in 2016, women only earned 80.5 cents.
Moreover, as mentioned in Forbes, the top 10 highest-paid actors tallied $748.5 million last year, while the top 10 highest-paid actresses made a combined $186 million. Forbes lists shortage of opportunities for women in long-running franchises or action movies that bring in the big bucks as the reason behind the wage gap.The Forbes' list, if anything, reflects a deep-seated menace whose roots run deep and far. From meager wage-earners to millionaires, there is a very persistent gender wage gap problem.