UNITED BANK: Man U. is the only sports franchise worth OVER $2 billion. Photo courtesy Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe

It shouldn’t be any surprise to you by now that big sports equals big money. The Super Bowl, for instance, is the last televised programming in the United States where a majority of the country sits down and watches one channel, garnering millions of dollars for each measly 30-second spot.

But Forbes’ 2012 list of the world’s most valuable sports franchises shows us just how much money our favorite teams are worth. Topping the charts were the two best-branded soccer teams in the universe, Manchester United and Real Madrid, which garnered appraisals of $2.23 billion and $1.88 billion, respectively. After them, MLB’s New York Yankees and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys tied for third at $1.85 billion while the Cowboys’ archrival, the Washington Redskins, rounded out the Top 5 at $1.56 billion.

As you gloss over the entire list, it will take you no more than a second or two to realize it is HEAVILY dominated by NFL teams. In fact, ALL 32 NFL teams are amongst the world’s 50 most valuable franchises as the average team is worth about $1.04 billion. This, in large part, is thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (that thing millionaires and billionaires bickered over during the lockout) as well as a round of fresh new television contracts with all the major networks.

Specifically in reference to the CBA, not only does it guarantee a labor peace for the next decade, that bigger piece of the pie the owners got went directly to their team’s valuations (an ’empty calorie’ analogy feels appropriate here).

RICH FRIENDS: Not only do Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder own the two most valuable NFL franchises, their teams play each other twice every season. Photo courtesy Rob Carr/Getty Images

Still, not all NFL franchises are created equal. While all of them made the list, the biggest (Washington and Dallas), are still appraised at about twice as much as the smallest (Jacksonville and Oakland).

But of course, the NFL is not the end-all be-all of profitable sports franchising. The sport with the second-highest number of most valuable franchises is soccer. Add in the seven squads that made the list here and football, in one form or another, makes up 78% of the Top 50.

Sure, soccer is outgunned by American football 32-7 throughout the entire compilation, but when it comes to the ultra-valuable franchises, futbol proves to be just as big. Four of the seven teams are in the Top 10 on Forbes’ list TYING the NFL (the MLB make up the other two with the Dodgers and aforementioned Yankees).

Where casual sports fans might really be surprised, though, is where two racing teams make the list. I shouldn’t be the first to tell you this, but advertising makes the world go round. If you honestly believed you made every life decision without the assistance of our corporate overlords, I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you. And, when you consider this notion, it’s actually not surprising that a flashy-colored car zipping around a race track decked out in brands and slogans is worth a decent chunk of change.

The two teams that made the list were Formula 1’s Ferrari and McClaren. While their exact totals will fluctuate with each new edition the financial analysis company rolls out, don’t expect these two power houses to go anywhere anytime soon.

The next to be made here has to do with markets. Sorry, guys, size DOES matter. And the bigger your market is, the more money your team is worth. Just look at the two NBA franchises that made the list here: Los Angeles (Lakers) and New York Knicks. When it’s come to on-the-court performance in the past decade, these two teams couldn’t be further apart. And yet, they’re the two pro basketball brands worth the most amount of green.

The trend is also highlighted in the MLB teams, as well. Who were the only two MLB teams to make the top 10? New York and Los Angeles. Where are the other MLB teams that made the list based? Boston, Chicago, and New York (again, with the Mets). If you notice, the cash cows aren’t exactly based in Oakland and Kansas City.

The final note on this list has to do with hockey. Sure, the average sports fan loves a good hockey game every now and again, but that enjoyment doesn’t necessarily translate into dollar signs the same way it does with other sports. In total, ZERO NHL teams made the list. In fact, they weren’t even really that close. According to a list compiled in 2010 by Forbes, the most valuable NHL team was the Toronto Maple Leags appraised at just $505 million. That’s $169 million below the bar set by the last team on this list, baseball’s Texas Rangers.

Here is the complete list:

1. Manchester United | $2.23 (billion)
2. Real Madrid | $1.88
3. New York Yankees | $1.85
3. Dallas Cowboys | $1.85
5. Washington Redskins | $1.56
6. Los Angeles Dodgers | $1.40
6. New England Patriots | $1.40
8. Barcelona | $1.31
9. New York Giants | $1.30
10. Arsenal | $1.29

11. Bayern Munich | $1.23
11. New York Jets | $1.23
13. Houston Texans | $1.20
14. Philadelphia Eagles | $1.16
15. Ferrari Racing | $1.10
16. Chicago Bears | $1.09
16. Green Bay Packers | $1.09
16. Baltimore Ravens | $1.09
19. Indianapolis Colts | $1.06
20. Denver Broncos | $1.05

21. Pittsburgh Steelers | $1.02
22. Miami Dolphins | $1.01
23. Carolina Panthers | $1.00
23. Boston Red Sox | $1.00
25. Seattle Seahawks | $997 (million)
26. San Francisco 49ers | $990
27. AC Milan | $989
28. Kansas City Chiefs | $986
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | $981
30. Cleveland Browns | $977

31. New Orleans Saints | $965
32. Tennessee Titans | $964
33. San Diego Chargers | $920
34. Arizona Cardinals | $901
35. Los Angeles Lakers | $900
36. Chicago Cubs | $879
37. Cincinnati Bengals | $875
38. Detroit Lions | $844
39. Atlanta Falcons | $814
40. McLaren Racing | $800

41. Minnesota Vikings | $796
42. Buffalo Bills | $792
43. New York Knicks | $780
44. St. Louis Rams | $775
45. Oakland Raiders |$761
45. Chelsea | $761
47. Jacksonville Jaguars | $725
48. Philadelphia Phillies | $723
49. New York Mets | $719
50. Texas Rangers | $674

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NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
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