When the Galaxy signed him to a five-year deal in January 2007, $250 million was the number mentioned in a press release as the value of his player contract and commercial tie-ins. It's been repeated again and again as gospel, but the WSJ's Numbers Guy - aka Carl Bialik – is skeptical. His base salary with the team is only $5.5 million - it was initially put at $10 million - and while nearly 300,000 Beckham jerseys were bought in the first week of sales, his first year with the club has been underwhelming, to say the least.
His marketing prowess, while it remains strong, is jeopardized by his disappointing debut with the Galaxy: just nine regular-season appearances, six of them losses, with Mr. Beckham notching one goal and five assists. Since the Beckham signing, the Galaxy have lost 16 of 34 games and were outscored by a cumulative total of 13 goals. England's failure to qualify for this summer's European Cup will deprive Mr. Beckham of international exposure, and if the national team qualifies for the 2010 World Cup, he may not make the squad. Whether he will earn $50 million in the contract's first year, through June 30, is unclear; even if he does, it will be hard to maintain that pace through age 37, by which time his skills are likely to have declined.
Beckham still commands attention on the world stage outside of Los Angeles - kind of ironic since he was supposed to have made such an impact in L.A. (He seemed a little out of place at the Lakers game on Sunday.)
Glenn Lehrman, Mr. Beckham's U.S. spokesman, declined to comment on Mr. Beckham's earnings. "Is he on pace?,"¯ Mr. Lehrman asked. "Some of the anecdotal evidence you might see would suggest that." He pointed to new endorsement deals with Giorgio Armani, Sharpie and GO3, a supplement company. "The general opinion is he is at least on track,"¯ said Mark Friedrich, vice president of the Bonham Group, a sports-marketing company. But no hard figures have been released, nor are they expected, calling into question why anyone reports an unverifiable financial figure as fact.