In two weeks, Phil Mickelson will attempt to complete his career Grand Slam with the one title that has famously eluded him. Six times, he’s been the runner up at the US Open, and although he still says he believes he can win that tournament several times, the pressure has to be rising every year.
Right now, though, Mickelson finds himself under a different type of pressure, as the federal government is investigating whether or not the 43-year-old Hall of Famer got caught up in insider trading.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the FBI and SEC are looking into trades made in 2011 by Mickelson, corporate investor Carl Icahn, and high-stakes sports bettor Billy Walters. The report states that the government is investigating whether Icahn passed non-public information on to Walters, and if in turn, Walters ever passed that information on to Mickelson.
Mickelson’s attorneys have said that “Phil is not the target of any investigation. Period.” Lefty himself maintains that he has done nothing wrong, and said Saturday that he has been cooperative with authorities and will continue to be until the issue is resolved.
On its face, the circumstances seem pretty ridiculous. Mickelson’s average annual income, between PGA Tour earnings, endorsements and appearances, sits somewhere in the $50 million range according to Forbes. He’s one of the most marketable athletes on the planet, and will almost certainly continue to rake in the big bucks for years after his playing days are behind him. Not the type of guy who needs to look for a big score, really.
Surely he wouldn’t risk getting caught up in something that could potentially ruin all of that, or even potentially put him in jail, right? Mickelson could stuff all his cash in his mattress and his grandkids’ grandkids would be able to live off of it.
Now, I’m no attorney or investment expert, but I have to think that any connection to Mickelson here will turn out to be circumstantial, at best. Not because Mickelson couldn’t have done this – people will always want more money – but because of how much he stands to lose if he did. Hopefully, as long as what he says is true, this will all blow over and allow Mickelson to keep doing what he does best.