MJ surpassed Mike Tyson to claim the crown of the highest-paid athlete in the world by banking $78 million in 1997 ($47M of which came through endorsements). Evander Holyfield was a distant second hauling in a still ridiculous $54.3 million (although maybe it wasn't enough). Number three on the list was occupied by the then top rated pound-for-pound fighter in the world a.k.a. Oscar De La Hoya, who made $38 million bucks to rise from the 17th highest paid athlete in the world the year before.
The Biggest Ballers