How former boxer George Foreman came to have one of the greatest endorsement deals in sports, making $8M per month

Abu Mubarik March 10, 2023
Former boxer George Foreman is doing well with his George Foreman Grills. Photo: AP

George Foreman made a name for himself as one of America’s most successful boxers. He recorded 76 wins out of 81 fights. For the duration of his boxing career, he managed to accumulate a net worth of $5 million, according to the New York Times.

However, the two-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist had a blissful retirement thanks to an endorsement deal he secured. Foreman was approached by Salton Inc, which was looking for a celebrity spokesman for its fat-reducing grill.

The boxing legend was paid $138 million in 1999 for the right to use his name by Salton. Before that, he was paid 40 percent of the profits on each grill sold, earning him roughly $4.5 million a month in payouts at its peak. This brought his total earnings to about $250 million. 

How Foreman secured the endorsement deal

CNBC reported in 2010 that Foreman’s deal with Salton Inc is only second to Nike’s signing of Michael Jordan in 1984 in terms of the best endorsement deal in sports marketing history. Salton’s grill would not have become known had it not been for an attorney named Sam Perlmutter who showed it to Foreman.

“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 deal had no guarantees from a monetary standpoint as Foreman could only be paid after expenses. He would end up getting 45 percent of profits as the endorsement deal led to the sale of millions of grills worldwide.

In 1997, he received a royalty check from the grill amounting to $1 million. He was 48 years at the time and had just lost a boxing bout with Shannon Briggs. From there, Foreman decided to devote his time to business over 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.”

Also, Forbes reported that Foreman once said he made as much as $8 million per month from his share of the profits.

Foreman was born on January 10, 1949, in Marshall, Texas. He was raised by J.D. Foreman while growing up in Houston with six siblings. Foreman dropped out of school when he was 15 years and became a mugger. After a year, Foreman reportedly changed his life and convinced his mom to sign him up for Job Corps. However, he started training for boxing after a move to Pleasanton, California.

He won a gold medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in the heavyweight division. He defeated Jonas Cepulis, a 29-year-old veteran, 10 years older than Foreman and with a 12-year career already under his belt, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

He became a professional boxer in 1969, winning 13 fights that year, 11 of them total knockouts. He made a remarkable career run in 1970, winning all 12 bouts in a row, with seven of the bouts coming by way of knockout. He would later face Muhammad Ali, who became the first boxer to knock him down.

He retired from boxing at the age of 48, winning 76 bouts and losing just five. He was subsequently inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has been ranked the eighth-greatest heavyweight in history.

Before taking up a role as spokesman for George Foreman Grill, the ex-boxer preached on Houston street corners and in fundamentalist churches. He ultimately opened his own church, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, in a mobile home where he ministered while trying to avoid the limelight as much as possible. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 10, 2023


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