George Foreman rose to prominence as one of America’s most successful boxers. In 81 battles, he won 76 of them. According to the New York Times, he accumulated a net worth of $5 million during his boxing career.
The two-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, on the other hand, had a happy retirement thanks to an endorsement agreement he secured. Salton Corp approached Foreman about becoming a famous spokesperson for its fat-reducing barbecue.
Salton paid the boxing star $138 million in 1999 for the right to use his name. Before, he was paid 40% of the earnings on each grill sold, which amounted to nearly $4.5 million per month at its peak. This brings his total earnings to almost $250 million.
How Foreman secured the endorsement deal
According to CNBC, Foreman’s arrangement with Salton Inc is only second in terms of the best endorsement deal in sports marketing history after Nike’s signing of Michael Jordan in 1984. Salton’s grill would not have been known if it hadn’t been shown to Foreman by an attorney named Sam Perlmutter.
“He said, ‘Uh, George, you’re making all these other companies wealthy,” Foreman told CNBC. “Why don’t you get your own product?”
Foreman looked at the product and told the attorney, ‘I’m not interested in toys.” Six months later, his wife tried the grill and fell in love with it. However, Foreman wasn’t convinced yet until his wife made him a burger on it.
“The grease, everything went away and the meat was delicious,” Foreman said. “So I called my partners back and said, ‘I’m going to do that deal.’”
The initial agreement included no financial promises because Foreman could only be paid after expenditures. He would end up receiving 45 percent of income as a result of the endorsement contract, which resulted in the sale of millions of grills globally.
In 1997, he received a $1 million royalty cheque from the grill. He was 48 years old and had just lost a boxing match to Shannon Briggs. From there, Foreman wanted to focus on business rather than boxing.
“That was one of the happiest days of my business life. I lost my last professional boxing match, I’d received a check for $1 million for the grill,” he said.”It was sort of getting in the way of my business life then.”
According to Forbes, Foreman once claimed to make up to $8 million each month from his portion of the revenues.
Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas, on January 10, 1949. J.D. Foreman raised him while he was growing up in Houston with six siblings. When Foreman was 15, he dropped out of school and became a mugger. After a year, Foreman allegedly altered his life and persuaded his mother to enroll him in Job Corps. But, after relocating to Pleasanton, California, he began boxing training.
He earned a gold medal in the heavyweight division in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. According to Celebrity Net Worth, he overcame Jonas Cepulis, a 29-year-old veteran who is 10 years older than Foreman and had a 12-year career under his belt.
In 1969, he turned professional and won 13 fights, 11 of which were knockouts. He had a phenomenal career run in 1970, winning all 12 matches in a row, seven of which were knockouts. Afterwards, he faced Muhammed Ali, who became the first boxer to knock him out.
He retired from boxing at the age of 48, having won 76 of his 76 fights and lost only five. He was later inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is regarded as the ninth greatest heavyweight in history.
Prior to becoming a spokesperson for George Foreman Grill, the ex-boxer preached on Houston street corners and in fundamentalist churches. He eventually established his own church, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, in a mobile home, where he ministered while attempting to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible.