Tiger Woods Feels No Effects of Wintry Economic Climate
By Stephanie Wei under General

Tiger Woods has another milestone to add to his mind-blowing list of achievements. According to Forbes’ calculations, the $10.5 million bonus he received from his FedEx Cup victory pushed him past the billion-dollar mark, making him the FIRST billion-dollar athlete.

Since 2002, Tiger has been the highest-earning athlete in the world. By Forbes’ estimates, Tiger had made $895 million going into 2009. According to Sports Illustrated’s The Fortunate 50 list, Tiger was projected to rake in $99,737,626 — based on winnings and endorsements — in 2009 (which in the slumping economy is down 22% from 2008). But the article was published earlier this year when he had only won $7,737,626. As of last week, the amount equals $10,508,163. Now with the FEC bonus, he’s earned approximately $21 million in prize money.

And then there are his endorsement deals. Since turning pro in ‘96, he’s had a lucrative contract with Nike, which Forbes reports is worth upwards of $30 million annually. His other sponsors include AT&T, PepsiCo, Accenture, Gillette, Electronic Arts and Upper Deck. He was dropped by Buick at the end of last year because of their economic troubles, but obviously that had little impact on his financial situation. Plus, he even has his own video game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour ‘10, from EA Sports. He also cashes in on royalties, appearance fees (his going rate is $3 million to play overseas), golf course design business and bonuses.

Sports Illustrated’s numbers show that he was expected to make $92 million in endorsement deals in ‘09. Add his prize money to that figure and the total is a whopping $113 million — which doesn’t even include expected end-of-year bonuses from sponsors.

Let’s see…$113 in ‘09 + $895 through ‘08 = just over $1 billion. If those numbers are relatively accurate, he has, in fact, reached the billion dollar benchmark.

But is he truly the first billion dollar athlete? Earlier this month, Darren Rovell reported that Michael Jordan had already toppled a billion — at least revenue from his Nike Brand Jordan has. MJ isn’t expected to hit a billion for another 4 to 5 years.

So there you have it: Tiger > MJ.

[Photo by Harry How/Getty Images Europe]