Dominates The X Games, the Olympics, and your TV screen
You know him as the Flying Tomato, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and an X Games icon in snowboarding and skateboarding. But charismatic, fiery-headed Shaun White, 25, may be the most business-savvy sports figure on the planet. Following the 2006 Winter Olympics, White took a cue from Tony Hawk, the first board star to crack the corporate mainstream. After scoring ad campaigns with Hewlett-Packard and American Express, White quickly became a millionaire. (He now pulls $8.8 million in annual sponsorship earnings, nearly twice as much as the next-highest-earning skater, Ryan Sheckler.) He left Volcom, with its “Youth Against Establishment” slogan, in 2008 to start his own clothing line with Target. In January 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek named White the second-most-powerful athlete in the world, behind Peyton Manning. This year White, who also has his own video game, has appeared in a Black Keys video, a Stride gum commercial, and the movie Friends with Benefits.
By the Numbers 20: X Games medals (15 in snowboarding, five in skateboarding); 1: Lamborghini Murcielago in his garage
Second Opinion “He understands how to take something and make it his own—not just take an ad-agency concept and plug into that,” says Hawk. “He’s one of the few with crossover appeal and recognition.”