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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tops NASCAR Drivers Wealth

nc-2Commercialism is boldly exhibited in NASCAR racing more than any other sport. Corporations buy driver sponsorship’s to advertise on racing cars. The era of big prize money has exploded, rocketing Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the top of NASCAR drivers wealth.

NASCAR is a money-making machine that rivals only Formula One racing for bringing in the cash. Drivers get paid in three ways. The top 43 competing on the circuit for all but a couple of months during the year receive a base salary, pay checks from sponsors and bonuses for winning races and often for finishing in the top three.

NASCAR maintains a pool of prize money, which is known as the purse that comes from TV deals and sponsors. The purse is divided into cash prizes awarded to top finishers in each week’s races and it also hands out cash to members of the Winners Circle. The winner usually receives between $200,000 and $300,000 in each week’s race. Since that money has to be shared with the team, the driver doesn’t get it all.

NASCAR drivers also receive big pay checks from endorsement deals. As you might imagine, this is where the real money is raked in during the season. Endorsement money is handed out based on driver popularity, not wins or losses on the race track. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick both take home a lot more in endorsement money than many drivers with better records.

The son of legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr., who died in a race car crash, Dale Jr. is worth more than an estimated $300 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, the highest net worth of any NASCAR driver. Earnhardt is easily the fan favorite among NASCAR drivers, winning three major races this season heading into the Chase, the showdown for the annual NASCAR championship.

Jeff Gordon is the second wealthiest driver with a fortune of just half Earnhardt’s at $150 million. Gordon brought home $18.1 million during the 2013 season, with some $12.6 million in salary and winnings and $5.5 million in endorsements.

nc-3Tony Stewart, who recently made headlines for accidentally killing another driver on a dirt track is another fan favorite with a fortune of $70 million. Stewart made $18.7 million last year, $12.7 million from his salary and $6 million in endorsements.

Driver Carl Edwards has a nice guy image on the track perhaps more than any other NASCAR driver. Despite his annual sponsorship with Aflac insurance, Edwards hasn’t been one of the top earners for a number of seasons, but still has a personal fortune of $50 million.

Surprisingly some of the biggest NASCAR drivers didn’t make the big money close to the leaders. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin grossed much less than the sport’s top producers. But all of them still made more than $30 million a year, which are major pay days for a sport that started on a Florida beach as a way to entertain tourists.

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