Who is behind Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer’s riches?

Although he was never more than a good amateur golfer, Mark McCormack was once the most powerful man in sport . . .

by Marteli Brewis
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Who is behind Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer’s riches?

Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Arnold Palmer have a lot of things in common. They were generational players, cultural icons, and serial winners. They also had one more thing in common – a giant bank account thanks to Mark McCormack.

Mark McCormack was a lawyer-turned-marketing genius. He envisioned giving pro athletes large sums to endorse products. Through this idea, McCormack changed the sports business and marketing athletes as ambassadors. In 1990, Sports Illustrated named Mark Hume McCormack the “Most Powerful Man In Sport”.

By the time his dealings in the tennis world had ended, Tennis Magazine called him the “Most Powerful Man In Tennis”. He was the founder, chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of International Management Group (IMG), he revolutionized the sporting world by making IMG into the largest athlete representation company in the world and a billion-dollar entity.

Laid the foundation McCormack, often called the Father of Sports marketing, founded and managed Cleveland’s International Management Group. It started with a handshake deal with Arnold Palmer. This put the pro golfer on top and he created his own clothing line.

Forbes estimates that Woods had earned over $1 Billion through endorsements and prize money. Tiger Woods was an IMG client from 1996 to 2011. At his peak, Woods earned more than $50 million a year in prize money and endorsements.

And all this could be credited to McCormack's vision. Jordan is considered the pioneer of Sports marketing. In his second year, he launched the Jordan brand shoes with Nike. It made Jordan a billionaire and one of the most famous faces on the planet.

This would not have been possible if McCormack did not lay the foundation. McCormack was often referred to as the most powerful person in sports back in the day. His clients earned millions in endorsements and deals. He turned his clients into high-value brands and global icons. He passed away in 2003 at 72.

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