Tiger Woods and LeBron James were the first active athletes to become billionaires


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It’s been a quarter century since Tiger Woods first became a golf champion. LeBron James getting ready Since high school In the first televised basketball game on the national level. This was followed by new victories, injuries, scandals, failures and victories for both. However, both have been at the forefront of the sport: Over the course of their careers, the two legends have earned a combined total of $2.9 billion, $1.7 billion for Woods and $1.2 billion for James, in salaries, sponsorships and other income.

This streak of success turned both champions into billionaires, a performance that no active athlete has yet achieved. Michael Jordan, a well-known sports billionaire, reached a ten-figure fortune only after his retirement, according to the US edition of Forbes magazine. Woods, 46, has amassed a fortune estimated at $1 billion through massive support collaborations with brands such as Nike, Gatorade and Rolex. He also has an impressive portfolio of real estate and shares in a variety of companies, including a Florida restaurant called The Woods, and a luxury mini golf course operator with plans to expand across the country. James, 37, has built a net worth of $1 billion as one of the highest-earning and most entrepreneurial players in NBA history. He signed a lifetime sponsorship agreement with Nike in 2015, but also with brands like AT&T, PepsiCo, and Beats by Dre. Then there’s SpringHill, the LeBron James television company, as well as the film production company. In October last year, major investors including Fenway Sports Group and Epic Games bought parts of James’ business at a valuation of $725 million. However, James remains the largest shareholder.

“They’ve been very adept at taking on different roles in companies, in creating their own businesses, in ways that athletes before them simply couldn’t do.”, says legendary sports agent Lee Steinberg. Steinberg still remembers negotiating the biggest junior contract in American football history since 1975, with Atlanta paying $600,000 for Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski over a four-year period. To be fair, that amount equates to $800,000 per year, which is significantly less than the amounts paid today. What has changed in this regard? First of all, the live broadcasting of sports competitions on TV adds value to the contracts signed with the players. In 2011, 51 of the year’s top 100 broadcasts were sports events. Last year, this figure was 95 out of 100, and the value of television broadcast contracts increased, which was also reflected in the players’ salaries. Jack Nicklaus earned $5.7 million (down from $40 million today) over his four decades of career as an athlete, less than a third of what Woods earned in his career. 27 year period. Michael Jordan earned $94 million, which is the equivalent of $172 million today, in his 16 seasons in the NBA. LeBron James has only exceeded that amount in the past five seasons.

These athletes are clearly the stars of a generation. In the early 2000s, according to former CBS president Neil Bilson, television viewership fell by 30 to 50 percent when Woods was not in a televised tournament, and James played in each of the world’s top 15 NBA games. . last decade. “In one sense, the sport has created these super-celebrities, but on the other hand I feel they’ve contributed a lot to the sport’s popularity.”Steinberg says.

This also helped increase the amounts obtained off the field. There is a long tradition of sponsoring athletes by various brands. Now, the value of sponsorship is increased due to the effect of exposing the athlete in question to the frenzy of modern media. No one has earned more in his career than Woods and James. Of Woods’ $1.7 billion before taxes, only $120 million comes from real Gulf earnings. LeBron James earned about $385 million in this area, and the remaining $900 million came from outside business. Additionally, none of these observed trends are showing any signs of slowing, and there is no doubt that the next generation of sports stars will surpass Woods or James’ record earnings.

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