Sunday 6 April 2008

Tiger's march to become the first $1 billion athlete

According to Golf Digest, a leading South African golf magazine, Tiger Woods (no surprise) leads the 2007 top 50 earners with a recorded annual income of $122 702 706. Interestingly, only one sixth of his income comes from actually playing golf with the remainder coming from endorsements, bonuses, appearance fees, corporate outings, speaking engagements, licensing receipts, course architecture, books, instructional videos and other businesses that capitalise on what is often referred to as his "image rights". Tiger's overall career earnings, according to the article, are $769 440 709 putting him on track to become the world's first $1 billion athlete.

In other sports the opportunities to exploit image rights are nowhere near those afforded to golfers. Golfers have unique opportunities to earn income - for example designing golf courses. Furthermore, they can play the game throughout their lives. This is no more evident than in the case of 42nd ranked Gary Player who, at age 73, is still able to generate over $5million off his brand, tag lined "The Black Knight". To put golf earnings in perspective, David Beckham, arguably the greatest contemporary brand of the "worlds' most popular sport" - football, was only! able to earn a third of the income of Tiger Woods over 12 months in 2006/7 (according to figures released by Forbes magazine).

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