THURSDAY 21ST JULY 2005
Forbes recently ranked MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi 63rd on its celebrity top 100 list, the Italian being placing 19th in terms of worldwide athletes (above the likes of footballer Ronaldo) and third - behind only F1's Michael Schumacher and NASCAR's Jeff Gordon - in terms of motorsport competitors.
The business magazine also stated that Rossi pulled in a total of $28 million dollars last year - $4 million of which was in bonuses from Yamaha alone - which helped make him the highest paid Italian sportsman. Yesterday (Wednesday) Rossi was asked for his reaction to his Forbes listing.
"For me it is a great pleasure for sure," he said. "I am happy. It means I'm not only the world champion in one sport, but I bring our sport to a better level with some good races and a good show and a lot of people know the bikes more than before. This is very good because this is my sport, my passion.
"I don't know Tiger Woods (number one on the list). I know Schumacher and he is a good guy. My own favourite sportsmen include people like Michael Jordan (fourth on the list) or some motocross guys like Jeremy McGrath. I like football too so I like always Ronaldo," he added.
Meanwhile, Rossi stated that he was surprised to be named the highest paid sportsman in Italy - and believes it shows that MotoGP is now very close to the popularity of football in his home country.
"Yes, it is a great achievement because in Italy football is the top level for sure. Three or four-years ago our sport was four or five steps down (from football), now maybe only one or two so it is a great achievement," he said.
Rossi, US MotoGP 2005