The Dubious Philanthropy of Boxer Floyd Mayweather’s Foundation

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September 29, 2011; Source: The Root | Welterweight Floyd Mayweather earned $40 million for pummeling Victor Ortiz for four rounds a couple of weeks ago. The event was actually less noteworthy as a boxing match as it was for Mayweather’s verbal battle with 80-year-old HBO sports commentator Larry Merchant, who responded to some personal vulgarity from an abusive Mayweather with “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass.” In Mayweather’s previous four fights, the welterweight earned $115 million. 

Did you know that Mayweather’s nickname of choice is “Money”?  According to the New York Times, his favorite topic of conversation is money: “Money earned. Money wagered. Money spent. Money flashed. Money lost. On that topic, Mayweather said he collected $100,000 the previous night betting on N.F.L. games. He mentioned his 29 cars and charitable donations in the same sentence. He even compared his spending habits to a stimulus package: ‘If I’m making it rain, I’m throwing it to American citizens. In a recession!'”

Some of that may be Mayweather’s boxing shtick, honing the his villain image.  But the fact that he tosses charitable donations into the mix of his money fascination raises the issue of what he actually gives to charity.  The Root wondered about Mayweather’s charitable generosity too, and looked into the finances of the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation (FMJF), which has programs on education, youth boxing, girls, women, and community outreach. 

The Root’s conclusion after examining the foundation’s 990s (no one at the foundation would respond to the Root’s questions):  “What’s revealed there makes one ask if Mayweather is punching below his weight philanthropically or just not shining a light on all his charitable activities.” In 2009, the foundation distributed all of $3,564 in donations.  The foundation’s 2008 990 showed expenditures of “$573,790, or 62.5 percent, [that] went to undisclosed ‘professional fees and other payments to independent contractors’; $284,653…to other expenses; $55,650 to pay three employees; and the rest to smaller expenses. The ‘other expenses’ included $100,000 for…[a] two-day, Mayweather-sponsored Superfest fundraiser; $58,494 for the FMJF dinner; and $10,000 for Thanksgiving turkeys.”

Mayweather has made other individual charitable donations, apparently. For example, $160,000 for the National Golden Gloves Championship that was held in Mayweather’s hometown of Grand Rapids, so the foundation’s tiny charitable distributions might be of little consequence.  But then why have a foundation with independent contractors and employees if the philanthropic results are so penny-ante? 

Lately, professional boxing has veered closer to the storylines, personae, and antics one associates with professional wrestling.  How much charitable giving do the large professional actors portraying wrestlers do?  They are cartoon characters and hard to associate with any kind of philanthropy.  Unlike wrestlers, Mayweather is real.  No one can dictate to him how he spends his millions, But he would be well-served to clarify the less-than-stunning numbers in his eponymous foundation’s tax filings.—Rick Cohen


  • Wayne

    Your time could be spent on better articles instead of beating a dead horse with Mr. Mayweather

  • Arjun Thind

    Mayweather is under no obligation to the people. He gives what he wants out of respect to the people. Even if it is just $1 it should be appreciated. People need to get off him because Floyd does not need a camera crew to prove his sincerity.

    Respect the gesture of goodwill, however big or small, and respect Floyd Mayweather as an individual. If you don’t like him, then don’t comment on him.

  • Joey

    Why dont you put forward your own W2 so we can found out how much YOU spent on charities.
    I dare you!

  • rick cohen

    Thank you all for your comments. Two points: First, the newswire addresses the comments from the article in The Root, so we merely commented on The Root’s analysis. Second, the point that struck us as important was about Mayweather’s foundation. The fact that he established a foundation that appears, by the numbers cited in The Root article, to have spent a lot more on professional fees and contractors than went out as philanthropic distributions is more the issue, as the newswire asked in the last paragraph. Direct charitable contributions from Mayweather or anyone else are fine. They go from the donor’s pocket to a charity that assists persons in need. But when they go through a foundation, where all of the expenses are treated as charitable expenditures, that’s worth taking a look at. We would ask that question of anyone–athlete, celebrity, or corporate mogul–who establishes a tax exempt foundation. Thanks for all of your comments.

  • Jay Canns

    Its sad to see athletes or anyone take advantage of charities.

  • Mr Logic

    So you have a problem with the fact that the Mayweather Foundation spends a larger percentage of it’s money on contractors? Foundations give to other Foundations and non-profits all the time. The fact that 3 employess split 50k shows that the organization isnt trying to get rich off it. Way plant seeds to lead people to assume the worse.

  • rick cohen

    Dear Mr. Logic: thanks for your comment. I think the issue isn’t one of planting seeds, but asking questions about a tax exempt foundation. Assume The Root’s numbers are correct (and they are, because we doublechecked the foundation’s Form 990), in 2008 it spent $119,000 on charitable activities (the Superfest, weekend skating and bowling, turkeys). But within its tax exempt use of money, it spent $574,000 on unnamed contractors for unidentified activities. Elsewhere in the 990, the foundation doesn’t identify any contractor that might have received $50,000 or more in contracts. In addition, the foundation spent $58,000 for a foundation dinner. There’s no question that spending $50,000 for three staff people to administer a $917,000 foundation isn’t a problem. The problem is the unidentified expenditures. If you notice, the foundation raised $891,000 in contributions in 2008 (sources unidentified), but dropped to $3,564 in 2009, suggesting that Floyd Mayweather himself might have shifted his charitable giving from the intermediary of a foundation to simply making charitable donations as an individual. The Root is unclear about that. But the purpose of a Form 990 for a foundation is to explain how the foundation is spending tax exempt money. Two-thirds of the foundation’s expenditures are not explained in a way for readers to understand the philanthropic nature of those expenses.