Comparing the Pay of Athletes and Ecommerce Executives


I was watching an NBA playoff game last week when a friend of mine mentioned how much money LeBron James makes over the course of a year, including his salary and endorsement deals. While one season’s salary would be enough money for me to retire tomorrow, I was a bit surprised to hear that his endorsements earn him twice the amount he gets paid to actually play basketball.

As I drove home that night thinking about the island I would buy if I had that much money, I happened to catch the end of a news story that was talking about the average executive’s pay package being up by double digits last year.

Naturally, this called for some good old compensation comparison, so when I got home I began searching out yearly totals of the highest paid athletes in American sports to see how their earnings measure up against the top executives of a few pure enterprise ecommerce companies. It is worth noting that people in the business world make money in a lot of different ways, and by the time some of them end up as the executive of a Fortune 500 company there’s a decent chance they’ve already become fairly wealthy people who aren’t in their current venture solely for the paycheck.

For the sake of this valuation I wanted to try and capture a more accurate comparison for total income, so let’s just say that in the world of sports, endorsements are akin to what an executive might receive in stock options and bonus compensation.

Please note that the actual numbers represented here are from taken various sites, and like so many things online the amounts vary depending on the source. Regardless, these figures should be somewhere in the ballpark. Let’s assume a margin of error that is (+/-) a meager $5-10 million, just to play it safe.

Professional Athletes

    1. 1. TigerWoods: Golf Salary/Winnings – $20.5M, Endorsements – $70M

Total Earnings: $90.5M

2. Phil Mickelson:  Golf Salary/Winnings – $9.6M, Endorsements – $52M

Total Earnings: $61.6M

3. Floyd Mayweather: Boxing Salary/Winnings – $60M, Endorsements – $250K

Total Earnings: $60.2M

4. Lebron James: Basketball Salary – $15.8, Endorsements – $30M

Total Earnings: $45.8M

5. Alex Rodriguez: Baseball Salary – $33M, Endorsements – $4M

Total Earnings: $37M

Ecommerce Executives

    1. 1.

Jeffery Boyd

    1. : Priceline Salary – $550K, Stock and Compensation – $23.5M

Total Earnings: $24M

2. John Donahoe: Ebay Salary – $920K, Stock and Compensation – $11.5M

Total Earnings: $12M

3. Jeff Bezos: Amazon Salary – $81K, Stock and Compensation – $1.7M

Total Earnings: $1.8M

4. Michael Dell: Dell Salary – $950K, Stock and Compensation – $13K

Total Earnings: $963K

5. Patrick Byrne: Overstock Salary – $0, Stock and Compensation – $171K

Total Earnings: $171K

To be fair, these ecommerce CEO’s are not anywhere near the highest paid executives in the country. For a more accurate comparison between the top paid athletes and the top paid business leaders, have a look at this list from Forbes called America’ s Highest Paid Chief Executives. Unlike the comparison shown above, you’ll see that there’s not much of a difference between the compensation of a business tycoon and a guy who can run fast, jump high, and hit a ball with a stick.

Why is it that all of the sudden I’m wishing I had taken more interest as a kid in improving my jump shot, being able to hit anything with a bat that was thrown in my general direction, or taking up golf at all.



Jared Matkin is a staff writer for HotWax Media with a background in PR, Branding and Marketing. He’s also a light-hearted and an opinionated character who will join other HotWax Media employees and advisers in periodically posting his thoughts on topics ranging from enterprise eCommerce to business and technology.

DATE: May 12, 2011
AUTHOR: HotWax Systems
Enterprise eCommerce, eCommerce, Jared Matkin