When you’re a world class professional athlete, you’re in high demand. When you’re the best, or nearly the best, at your particular skill in the developed world, the payoff can be huge.
For example, right now, there is no one on this planet who can compare skills with Tiger Woods. Yes, every person in this world is unique and every person is special, but Tiger is special in a way that could increase the golf industry’s revenue by a billion dollars or more. He’s special in a different way. People will come from across the globe with open wallets to see him play. When Tiger is seen drinking Gatorade, the company that manufactures Gatorade believes he will inspire the world to do as well, with open wallets.
That’s why Tiger, through his winnings and endorsements, earned approximately $128,000,000 last year alone.
There are no surprises in the top ten earning athletes:
- Tiger Woods: $22,902,706 from salary and winnings, $105,000,000 from endorsements
- Phil Mickelson: $9,372,685 from salary and winnings, $53,000,000 from endorsements
- LeBron James: $12,455,000 from salary and winnings, $28,000,000 from endorsements
- Floyd Mayweather Jr.: $20,000,000 from salary and winnings, $20,250,000 from endorsements
- Kobe Bryant: $19,490,625 from salary and winnings, $16,000,000 from endorsements
- Shaquille O’Neal: $20,000,000 from salary and winnings, $15,000,000 from endorsements
- Alex Rodriguez: $29,000,000 from salary and winnings, $6,000,000 from endorsements
- Kevin Garnett: $22,000,000 from salary and winnings, $9,000,000 from endorsements
- Peyton Manning: $17,500,000 from salary and winnings, $13,000,000 from endorsements
- Derek Jeter: $22,000,000 from salary and winnings, $8,000,000 from endorsements
So who of these mass earners have established foundations?
Tiger Woods has the Tiger Woods Foundation. The foundation established the Tiger Woods Learning Center, where children develop their character by learning how to achieve their goals and reach their dreams.
Phil Mickelson runs the Phil and Amy Mickelson Charitable Gift Fund. This charity was a strong supporter of relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and is a continuing supporter of Homes for Our Troops.
LeBron James is part of the LeBron James Family Foundation. Recently, this foundation has been working to build playgrounds in communities across the United States.
The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation was created last year. This organization seeks to use construction, entrepreneurialism and education to encourage community alliances, youth leadership and stronger families.
In 2003, Kobe Bryant closed down his Kobe Bryant Foundation amidst the athlete’s sexual assault charges. Kobe now runs the Vivo Foundation, “a charitable initiative dedicated to enhancing the lives of young people and making dreams come true through educational and cultural enrichment opportunities and financial support.”
Shaq manages his Real Model Foundation, which has been noted in the press as being an adaptation of the term “role model” but with an emphasis on the idea that role models should be real. Actual details about this foundation and the work they have done is unclear.
Alex Rodriguez and his wife Cynthia run the AROD Family Foundation. The foundation’s mission is “to positively impact families in distress by supporting programs focusing on improved quality of life, education, and mental health. The foundation supports Boys and Girls Clubs events, the Children’s Aid Society, and other organizations.
Kevin Garnett’s foundation is called “4XL – For Excellence in Leadership.” This organization “connects minority high school and college students with business leaders and internet-based guidance, while preparing them for business-related careers and entrepreneurship.” The most recent information about this organization’s activities date back to 2003.
The PeyBack Foundation, run by Peyton Manning, seeks to help disadvantage youth build futures for themselves. This foundation has a strong presence in Indiana, Tennessee, and Louisiana, and also was a significant contributor to relief effort following Hurricane Katrina.
Derek Jeter launched the Turn 2 Foundation, Inc. in 1996. The foundation has awarded more than $8 million in grants since that time. Turn 2’s mission is to “motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol.”
When it comes to foundations run by athletes, Major League Baseball seems to have a great handle on the organizations run by its players. These foundations, like AROD and Turn 2, in addition to the Tiger Woods Foundation, appear to be the most professional and well-managed of all the celebrity foundations. It is surprising to see how much information was not available pertaining to the foundations run by the other athletes.
The Fortunate 50 [Sports Illustrated]
Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published June 5, 2008.