A revealing magazine hit the newsstands this month. For a mere $2.75 - that's the newsstand price - Sport Magazine will tell you how many megabucks your favorite megastar athlete makes.
Sport started doing this annual millionaire issue seven years ago, and discovered there's a market for this kind of information. A lot of inquiring minds want to know just how much famous sports figures make. Either that or a lot of famous sports figures, and their agents, want to know just how much other famous sports figures make. At any rate, Sport sells enough single copy issues of its "Who Makes What?" edition to make a nice salary itself, although it's not revealing how much.The magazine actually gets slightly sanctimonious about the whole issue of sporting finances, suggesting in its lead editorial that the sports fans of America are saps for continuing to pay higher and higher ticket prices so that sports figures can make higher and higher sports figures.
"Jerry Buss charges $250 for a Laker ticket because he can get it. Roger Clemens asks for $2.3 million because he can get it. And Joe Fan? You're lucky if you can get extra cheese on your nachos. You have no power," says the editorial, which goes on to suggest that a fan's union might not be a bad idea. Then again, with that kind of thinking, so might socialism.
Still and all, supply and demand seems to be well and flourishing, sports-wise. The magazine reports that there are now 190 millionaire athletes in North America, and 30 $2 millionaires. It's good work if you can find it. It's very good work.
In fact, it now requires an annual income of $1.3 million just to make Sport's Top 100 list. That barely excludes, by the way, the Millionaire Mailman, Karl Malone of the Jazz, who makes $1,250,000 and who might be distressed enough to, who knows, ask for another 50 grand next year.
- Malone did make the Top 20 list for basketball, tying for 20th alongside Adrian Dantley and Buck Williams. The top-paid basketball player is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ($3 million), followed by Patrick Ewing ($2.75), Magic Johnson ($2.5), Michael Jordan ($2.15) and Ralph Sampson, who last week gave the Golden State Warriors their $1,960,000 worth by sitting on the bench.
- The highest-paid native-born Utahn is Bruce Hurst of St. George, who gets $1,733,333 from the San Diego Padres. Lewis Feild, the rodeo hand from Elk Ridge, Utah, is the No. 2 money-maker in pro rodeo, at $122,822.
- At that, Hurst didn't make baseball's Top 20 list. Baseball is easily the highest-paid team sport. A baseball player has to make $2 million to make his sport's Top 20. So much for owner collusion. Basketball is No. 2 on the team sport list, football is third and hockey fourth. Football only has 13 millionaires, eight of them quarterbacks and none of them linemen, and pro hockey has just two millionaires, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
- If you really want to make a, uh, killing, go into boxing. Mike Tyson made more money last year than any athlete. He made more than entire hockey franchises. He made more than entire McDonald's franchises. When you see that the bottom line on his Form 1040 is $22,133,333 you get a better idea why this man is giving his Bentley to the New York Police Department, and why Robin Givens is hiring the best lawyers money can buy.
- There still isn't a lot of wealth in tractor pulling. Tim Engler is the top paid tractor puller and he makes $78,000. But that's blueblood money compared to the $17,000 Sean O'Neill made last year as North America's highest paid table-tennis player.
- RICH WOMAN DEPT.: Bachelors perusing the list in search of love and, well, money, could do worse than Martina Navratilova. Her $1,333,782 income this year ranks her No. 90 and gives her seven straight Sport 100 finishes.
- Despite taking October, November and December off, Ben Johnson made $1,100,000 this past year, which wasn't bad for an amateur. Carl Lewis made $850,000, which wasn't bad for an amateur not on extra testosterone.
- AGENT WITH A SENSE OF FAIR PLAY DEPT.: Sport reports that when Roger Clemens' agent drew up his client's $7.5 million, three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, he didn't ask for a bonus if Clemens makes the American League All-Star team. "For $2.5 million a year," the agent told the Red Sox, "you are entitled to an All-Star."
There's plenty more information packed in this fact-filled issue. Even the top-paid sportscasters are listed (Brent Musburger makes $1.9 million, John Madden and Pat Summerall $1.6), and the highest-paid coaches (Bill Walsh of the 49ers makes $1.3 million and Larry Brown of the San Antonio Spurs $750,000). It's a healthy economy out there for these people. They can put extra cheese on their nachos any time they want to.