Back in September, FanHouse suggested that Tiger Woods could be the U.S.'s first billionaire athlete. Golf Digest, in the February issue (we can see into the future at FanHouse), gives us a glimpse of just how close Eldrick is to the one-thousand millions mark.
During his first 12 years on tour, Woods has more than $100 million in winnings, and a mind-boggling $669 million in endorsements. That puts him at almost $770 million. Since 1996. (A complete breakdown of Tiger's yearly earnings after the jump.)
It's not hard to figure out why Woods is so marketable ... and filthy rich: he's the world's best golfer and arguably its most recognizable face. But Golf Digest explains that endorsement deals for the PGA Tour's top players are more lucrative than in other sports:
In Major League Baseball, where the average salary was $2,699,292 in 2006, the opportunities for added value are nowhere near what they are in golf. Only players of a Derek Jeter status get national endorsement deals, and the winner's share for the World Series in 2007 was $308,236 -- about what Jim Furyk got for finishing 11th in FedEx Cup points.
And baseball players don't get paid to design ballparks the way golfers do to design courses. The course-construction boom in Asia has been very lucrative for players.And that's the thing: in 2007, 81 percent of Tiger's earnings came from endorsements, and over his career, that number jumps to 87 percent.
And even though Tiger is primarily responsible for the explosion in tournament purses, the disparity between his tournament winnings and his endorsement dollars will only grow as he approaches (and eventually breaks) Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships.
So, when can we expect Woods' to break the billion-dollar barrier? Golf Digest predicts 2010. Which means that Eldrick will pull in somewhere in the neighborhood of $230 million dollars over the next two years.