Tiger loses $20 million, drops to fifth in SI’s Fortunate 50
Tiger Woods is the No. 1-ranked player in golf again, but he hasn’t been able to reclaim his spot at the top of Sports Illustrated’s annual “Fortunate 50” ranking of the highest earners in sports because he lost more than $20,000,000 in endorsements last year.
Woods had been No. 1 on the list since its inception in 2004 until last year, when he finished third behind boxer Floyd Mayweather and Woods’ old rival Phil Mickelson. In 2013, the resurgent Woods has overtaken Mickelson but is now fifth on the list, with an estimated $40,839,027 in income. Mayweather remains No. 1, followed by LeBron James, Drew Brees and Kobe Bryant. SI determines income solely through salary, winnings, bonuses and endorsements based on players’ associations, tour records, online databases and media reports. (Golf earnings are from July 1, 2012 through April 21, 2013.)
No. 5: Tiger Woods
Tiger is back -- he earned more than anyone on Tour over the past 12 months -- but sponsors have been slower to return. Woods’s current deals are with Nike, EA, Rolex, Kowa (a heat rub), Fuse Science, Upper Deck and NetJets. In the past two years various lists have put Tiger’s portfolio in the $50 million range; don’t believe them. Marketing experts say that even $33 million is generous, but no one really knows how much his deal with Nike is worth. (The best estimates put it at $20 million per year.) And now that Nike is using him in TV ads again (with the ascendant Rory McIlroy), you can bet the Swoosh sees fresh value in its biggest golf star. Phil Mickelson makes more in endorsements, but the 37-year-old Woods made double on the links.
Despite playing much better, Woods lost more than $20 million in endorsement than the previous year. (In 2012, Woods earned $54.5 million in endorsement income, according to SI.) Mickelson, whose play has been uneven, still made more money off the course than Woods.
No. 6: Phil Mickelson
In golf (and tennis), more than in other sports, endorsement contracts are heavily rankings-based and full of performance bonuses. At 42, Mickelson isn’t winning as much, but he’s still a sponsor’s dream because of his likability. In an ad for arthritis medicine Enbrel (for which he likely earns $7 million a year), he’s decked out in sponsorships: KPMG on his visor, Barclays on the chest of his polo, Callaway on the sleeve.
Rory McIlroy, the third pillar of golf’s latest Big Three, was listed in the International 20, not the Fortunate 50, but his earnings would have easily placed him in the top 10.
No. 7: Rory McIlroy
The widely reported Nike deal is bringing McIlroy at least $20 million a year, but it’s also likely a rankings-based contract, full of many bonuses that Rory hasn’t earned so far. Nike took a huge, long-term gamble on him that doesn’t yet look so wise, but he’s got quite a while to prove himself worthy. And to be third in the world among active golfers for endorsement earnings, at age 23, that’s pretty impressive. Other brands that all came calling in the very recent months include Bose and Omega watches.
Woods, Mickelson and McIlroy were the only professional golfers to crack the Fortunate 50 (or the International 20); however, Brandt Snedeker, winner of the $10 million FedEx Cup in 2012, was listed as a "Future Fortunate."
Photo: Tiger Woods celebrates winning the 2013 Players Championship, a victory worth $1,710,000 (Getty Images).