Tiger Woods Becomes The World’s First Billionaire Athlete

By Randall Stevens  |  10/06/2009

Tiger WoodsBack in June, we reported that superstar golfer Tiger Woods was on his way to becoming a billionaire, which would make him the first athlete to achieve that level of success. Well, he's reached it.

According to Forbes, Woods' FedEx Cup win this year earned him a hefty $10 million check, nudging his total career earnings at over $1 billion.

Tiger's progress has been tracked by the mag ever since he joined the PGA Tour in 1996. First, he landed a record $40 million contract from Nike, and then he won the Masters by a record 12 strokes, becoming the youngest winner ever and first black player to take the title. That was just the start of his career.

Along the way, he's amassed 14 major titles, 9 annual money titles, and 9 Player of the Year awards.

This guy is simply a winner, and all that success has helped him became sports' first billionaire.

And, right now, there's only two others in range to reach that mark along with him -- Michael Jordan and Michael Schumacher, both of whom dominated their respective sports for nearly 15 years.

Jordan's earning peaked during his last season with the Chicago Bulls (1998-'99), when he earned $69 million in salary and endorsement income. However, he continues to earn $45 million annually, almost entirely from Nike. Yahoo! Sports estimates that he's earned around $800 million since entering the NBA in 1984, and is expected to pass the billion mark sometime in the next 4-5 years.

Schumacher's earnings peaked at $80 million in 2003, when he won his record sixth World Drivers' Championship. His $40 million salary was the highest in sports at the time and his income doubled when endorsements, licensing deals and championship bonuses were factored. His estimated career earnings is around $700 million, since his Formula One debut in 1991.

As for Woods, he's just 33 years old and has years left in the sport of golf, and doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. So, expect him to stay on top for a long time coming.