Thomas Vanek made $6.4 million this season, which ranked second on the Sabres. Among athletes from Austria, however, it was No. 1.
ESPN the Magazine tracked the best-paid athletes from 200 countries, and its report has Vanek as the top earner from Austria. He is one of five NHL players to lead a country in athletic earnings, joining Pittsburgh's Craig Adams (Brunei Darussalam, $725,000), Minnesota's Mikko Koivu (Finland, $7.29 million), Winnipeg's Nik Antropov (Kazakhstan, $4.25 million), Philadelphia's Ilya Bryzgalov (Russia, $10 million) and Boston's Zdeno Chara (Slovakia, $8.5 million).
The highest-paid athlete in 2011, according to the report, was boxer Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines. He made $50 million in two fights. Antagonist and fellow fighter Floyd "Money" Mayweather topped U.S. athletes by making $40 million for one fight.
(Mayweather will fight Saturday night for the junior middleweight title held by Miguel Cotto. A long-awaited Mayweather-Pacquiao fight would undoubtedly keep the duo at the top again, but it unfortunately remains a long shot.)
Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso tied Mayweather for the No. 2 spot by topping Spain's list at $40 million. Soccer players dominated the 200-country list by taking the top spot 117 times.