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Sports superstars top young earners list

NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Sports stars, both men and women, topped the list of the under 25 year-old big earners thanks to multi-million dollar endorsement deals, according to the Web site Forbes.com.

LeBron James, considered one of the most gifted basketball players of his generation, was the highest paid, banking $27 million between June 2006 and June 2007.

LeBron, 22, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals last year, earns much of his cash from major endorsement deals.

“It wasn’t really surprising that the athletes make so much more money than actors and actresses as they make most of their money off the court,” Lea Goldman, a senior editor at Forbes said in an interview.

“It has less to do with their state of profession.”

But while athletes tend to make a lot of money early on in their careers, the trade-off is that there is less longevity in their profession.

National Football League (NFL) running back Reggie Bush, 22, of the New Orleans Saints, came in second, pocketing $24 million.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova, who is also the world’s highest paid female athlete, ranked third. The 20-year-old took home $23 million, of which only $3.8 million came from her winnings.

Golfer Michelle Wie’s $19 million paycheck put the 18-year-old in fourth place, while acting twins Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, who gained fame in the 1980s television show “Full House”, came in at No. 5.

The 21-year-olds made their $17 million apiece mainly from “tween fans” - the 8 to 12-year-olds who buy their videos and Olsen branded merchandise.

The highest-ranking actor on the list is the 18-year-old star of the Harry Potter films Daniel Radcliffe, who banked $15 million. His co-stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint also made the cut with $4 million apiece.

Forbes.com looked at earning from June 2006 to June 2007, which included salaries, winnings, endorsement deals and royalties, but took no deductions for taxes or management fees.

The full list can be found on www.forbes.com.

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