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Mauer, Griffen top highest-paid Minnesota athletes list

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Twins first baseman Joe Mauer and Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen are No. 1 and No. 2 on the Business Journal's latest annual list of the highest-paid athletes in Minnesota.

Mauer, a three-time American League batting champ and 2009 AL MVP, is earning $23 million in 2014, while Griffen's 2014 salary is $12.9 million.

Signed by the Vikings to a new, five-year free-agent deal in March for $42.5 million with $20 million guaranteed, Griffen is expected to make $27 million in the first three years of the contract, the Star Tribune said.

Coming in at No. 3 and No. 4 on the Business Journal list are Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic with a salary this year of $12.1 million, and Twins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco with $12 million.

Beleaguered Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is No. 5 on the list with a 2014 salary of $11.75 million.

Peterson is continuing to earn his salary while on the NFL's exempt/commissioner’s permission list, which forces him to stay away from the team until the felony child-abuse charges he’s facing in Montgomery County, Texas, are resolved.

While Mauer's $23 million this year far out-distances other Minnesota athletes, he's not the highest-paid Minnesota athlete in a single year in the past decade. The Business Journal says former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett earned $28 million 10 years ago.

According to Forbes, the highest-paid athlete in the world this year is boxer Floyd Maywether, whose salary/winnings total $105 million.

Rounding out Forbes' top five are Portugal and Real Madrid soccer player Christiano Ronaldo ($52 million in salary/winnings, $28 million in endorsements); Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Lebron James ($19.3 million in salary/winnings, $53 million in endorsements); Barcelona soccer player Lionel Messi ($41.7 million in salary/winnings, $23 million in endorsements); and Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant ($30.5 million in salary/winnings, $31 million in endorsements).

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