After new Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton vowed to change Russell Wilson’s life with the Denver Broncos, Russ’ week just took another turn.
A report published by USA Today was the culmination of a six-month investigation. And what they found was Russell Wilson’s charity foundation is spending just 24.3 cents of every dollar on actual charity between 2020 and 2021. The other 75.7 cents of every dollar are going to compensation for employees, administrative costs, and other expenses.
Russell Wilson was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2020. It is an NFL honor that’s awarded with and “emphasis on community service and philanthropy.”
The USA Today investigation, looked at the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations of past Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipients but it is Russell Wilson’s charity which has gained overnight attention.
Here is what they found regarding Russell Wilson:
The Russell Wilson Foundation, which does business as the Why Not You Foundation, reported it spent almost $600,000 — or just 24.3 cents of every dollar — on charitable activities in 2020 and 2021 combined and nearly twice as much, $1.1 million, on salaries and employee benefits in that span, according to federal tax records.
These expenses included $342,000 for an executive director and more than $430,000 for a second executive who also worked for the Wilson family office, the nonprofit confirmed, a relationship not disclosed on federal tax records, as required by law.
Other athletes investigated include 5 current and former Arizona Cardinals, J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell, Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald.
Anquan Boldin’s Q81 foundation was found to spend 25.5 cents of every dollar on charitable activities ‘during its first five years in Arizona.’
Former Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman’s charity was found to spend just 26 cents of every dollar on charitable activities in 2014.
This assertion from Yahoo! Sports Jason Wolf seems particularly damning, if true:
If challenged, he said, there is a “high probability” the IRS could conclude the salaries constitute excess benefit transactions and levy substantial penalties.
“The nonprofit space is governed by fair market value,” Morton said. “You can say, ‘Oh, they’re super talented.’ That’s fine. In the for-profit space, the sky is the limit. Pay them whatever you want. But in the nonprofit space, no matter how talented you are, no matter how qualified you are, you are subject to those limits for comparable compensation.”
Russell Wilson is taking some HEAT on social media over this.
Worth noting that Russell Wilson won NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2020, in part because of his charity. pic.twitter.com/1cgrSxMwFe
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 9, 2023
Breaking: Quarterback gives Quarter Back
— B3N (@bennyboyfeldman) February 8, 2023
Media when Russell Wilson steals from charity vs when Brett Favre steals from charity pic.twitter.com/iSueRsYQyq
— robbie (@roundrobinrob) February 9, 2023
Some are defending Russ:
After looking over this Russell Wilson charity story in-depth this simply looks like a lack of oversight, which is its own problem.
But the idea that Russell Wilson is ripping off people through a charity to make less money than he makes in an appearance fee is preposterous.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) February 9, 2023
Depending on the charity, it’s not uncommon for a small % of the money donated to actually go to the cause. Fundraising siphons up a massive percentage of donations for a variety of reasons. But Russell Wilson and Ciara have certainly caught flack for this.