DOLLAR DOLLAR BILLS
This eye-popping list will make you question everything about your favorite Houston athletes
Nope, I won't do it. Just because the coordinates of my fall/winter home are 29.7180 N. and 95.4558 W., and Toyota Center is only 6.2 miles away and I can walk to NRG Stadium, I'm not going to write about my miserable hometown Houston Rockets (1-10) or Houston Texans (1-8). To paraphrase coach Dennis Green, they are what we thought they'd be, and that's plain horrible.
Instead, an interesting piece appeared on the Internet this week. Forbes Magazine ranked the richest athletes in the world. Here are the Top 5 jocks rolling in it.
1. Michael Jordan (net worth $2.2 billion) – It's got to be the shoes. His lifetime deal with Nike is worth $1.3 billion. Plus he's the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
2. Vince McMahon ($1.6 billion) – I know, some may scrunch their nose at including wrestling on a sports list, but there's no denying that Mr. McMahon has made all the right moves since buying the WWE from his father in 1982.
3. Ion Tiriac ($1.2 billion) – The former Romanian tennis star owns the Madrid Masters Series tournament and several banks in Europe. He also is a loudmouth who's made rude comments about Serena Williams and doesn't care what you think.
4. Anna Kasprzak ($1 billion) – Never heard of her. She is a Danish dressage rider. Never mind pro wrestling, I don't consider someone who rides a horse to be an athlete, and that includes jockeys in the fifth race at Churchill Downs. The only real athletes here are the horses.
5. Tiger Woods ($800 million) – All those majors and video games add up.
Rounding out the Top 10:
6. Irish race car driver Eddie Jordan ($600 million).
7. Former NBA player and current fast food kingpin Junior Bridgeman ($600 million).
8. Soccer scoring machine Lionel Messi ($600 million).
9. Former NBA great Magic Johnson ($600 million).
10. Racing legend Michael Schumacher ($600 million).
I would have guessed LeBron James, Floyd Mayweather and George Foreman would be on the list. At the height of the George Foreman Grill craze, Big George was raking $4.5 million a month in royalties from the grilled cheese machines. In 1999, manufacturer Salton cut Foreman a final check for $137 million to use his name to infinity and beyond.
While no Houston athlete broke the Top 10 bank, here's a look at the richest contracts signed, sealed and delivered by our three big sports teams. Obviously we don't know how these athletes spend their money, or how much they've kept. Well, we know how one of them spends his money, but that's not for us to judge. Actually it may be up to a judge to judge. Anyway …
Jose Altuve: the perennial All-Star second baseman signed the richest contract in Astros history in 2018. Altuve's deal is seven years and $163.5 million, including a $21 million signing bonus. All of the money is guaranteed. Altuve will make $29 million next season.
Deshaun Watson signed his four-year, $156 million contract with the Houston Texans last season. That includes a $27 million signing bonus. Because this is the NFL, where nothing is certain (like Watson's future, for example), only $110 million of his deal is guaranteed.
James Harden signed a four-year, $171.1 million contract with the Rockets in 2017. Averaging $42.7 million a year, it was the richest contract in NBA history at the time. Last year Harden maneuvered his way out of Houston and now he's wondering why he's not going to the free throw line in a Brooklyn Nets uniform.