Greg Norman Compares LIV Golf’s Enormous Player Contracts To Rory McIlroy’s Earnings

Greg Norman LIV Golf CEO

Getty Image / Eric Espada

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman recently joined Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame for a discussion about LIV Golf‘s finances. Steven Levitt co-authored Freakonomics with Stephen Dubner and the two still helm the ever-expanding Freakonomics podcast network.

One of the podcast franchises from Freakonomics is Steven Levitt’s People I (Mostly) Admire. The University of Chicago economist brings on notable guests to talk through things “only he would ask.” It’s always a good listen and I’d place it 2nd in the Freakonomics podcast pantheon behind the flagship show.

For the 99th episode of People I (Mostly) Admire, Steven Levitt brought on LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman. The Shark discussed everything from how PGA Tour players should be giving a “standing ovation” to LIV Golf, the exorbitant player contracts handed out, and other controversies.

Greg Norman On LIV Golf Player Contracts Compared To Rory McIlroy’s Finances

Speaking about LIV Golf’s player contracts, CEO Greg Norman put them in context a lot of people can understand. He compared them to Rory McIlroy’s earnings, saying “Rory McIlroy is over in the Middle East right now playing in a tournament — in the Dubai Desert Classic. Do you think he went over there for nothing? No. He got an appearance fee.”

Norman went on to explain the ins and outs of that ‘apperance fee’ and how it adds up over the year. Saying “He (Rory) created value, and he put value on his name and his brand to get paid to go play in one event. He plays a competition. He’s competing for prize money. He’s focused on the first tee on a Thursday to Sunday is to win that tournament. So when you look at the value — now, that’s one tournament.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman goes on to say he isn’t personally aware of Rory McIlroy‘s finances, but that they aren’t too far off from LIV Golf’s player contracts.

Norman says “I don’t know what he gets paid for an appearance fee, but let’s just pick $2 million. It’s a hypothetical number just for this mathematical explanation. So let’s call it $2 million. Let’s just say Rory plays 18 tournaments a year.”

Greg expanded on that thought, saying “That’s $36 million a year, basically, he would get paid to play, right? That doesn’t happen, but that’s basically what it is. So when you look at LIV and our quality of players that come on board, there is a commitment fee. We pay ’em on an annual basis, but when you break it down on a per-tournament basis, it’s not too far off of just that mathematical equation that I hypothetically put out there.

Greg Norman ripped the PGA Tour

Steven Levitt has a love of golf. He’s mentioned it in past episodes. That made this a very easy interview for both parties. But Levitt’s lifelong love of golf didn’t stop Greg Norman from ripping the PGA Tour.

Norman says the PGA Tour doesn’t like competition and their players should be applauding LIV Golf for what they’ve done.

He said “So they don’t like change. They don’t like competition. To see what’s happened today on the P.G.A. Tour, since LIV came onto the scene, a massive amount of capital was injected back into the players on, on the P.G.A. Tour. So, be honest with you, the players on the P.G.A. Tour should be giving a standing ovation to LIV, the league, and the players for stimulating this new injection of money.”

Host Steven Levitt and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman discuss the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and more. The full interview is available here:

If you are a reader instead of a watcher, there is a full transcript of the interview available on the Freakonomics website (link above in this article).