If not for his sex scandal, Tiger Woods’ would be the top-earning athlete of all time

Forget “drive for show, putt for dough.” It’s more like, “drive and putt for dough…and sign lucrative endorsement deals/start businesses for 10 times as much dough.”

Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but such is the reality for the golfers among the top earners on Forbes’ highest-paid athletes of all time list.

Adjusted for inflation, Michael Jordan tops the list with $1.7 billion in career earnings. Tiger Woods is second at $1.65 billion. Arnold Palmer, third at $1.35 billion. Jack Nicklaus is fourth at $1.15 billion.

That’s right, three of the top four (estimated) all-time highest earners in the sports world are/were golfers.

Damn. Golf really is great for business networking.  

Forbes’ estimate factors in salaries, bonuses, earnings, endorsements and licensing through May 2016. Phil Mickelson (8th, $760 million) and Greg Norman (12th, $680 million) also made the list. .

Interestingly, Woods still hasn’t bounced back to pre-sex scandal levels. He earned $115 million ($128 million in 2016 dollars) for the year ending June 2008. At that point, he was raking it in thanks to endorsements with Accenture, Buick, Gatorade, Gillette, and Nike (back when they made golf clubs!).

Remember when TW did commercials like these…

Awesome female acquaintances like these…

Those were the days.

And for what it’s worth, Arnold Palmer is slated to enter Elvis status in the upcoming year. That is, making more in a year after his death than when he was alive. Put another way, the King will reign in heaven.


Start the discussion

to comment