Surfing world champion tuns down bonus for stake

November 11, 2010

American surfer Kelly Slater won’t pick up a long rumoured $US10 million sponsorship bonus for winning a record 10th world surfing title, instead opted to take a stake in the company.

Quiksilver chief executive Bob McKnight revealed his company’s longterm superstar client was given the option of a hefty bonus to reward his ground-breaking achievement, but the 38-year-old American instead opted to take a 3 per cent of the giant surf company – that’s about $US22 million of a  $US740 million business – so is projected to become far richer from that choice than he would have by collecting a lump sum speculated about for so many years.

McKnight said the $US10 million figure was just speculation, although Slater would still receive a seven figure sum from the company for sealing his 10th world title in Puerto Rico last week.

“The answer is no. I think Kelly probably started that rumour by the way! It was meant years ago as a joke and then it just came to life on its own,” said McKnight, who admitted that Quiksilver has grown 10-fold since Slater came on board to endorse its products 20 years ago.

“We talked to Kelly about it. He obviously gets a big bonus … it’s into seven figures.

“We sat down and talked to Kelly about all that ($US10 million). We said ‘do you want us to put the money to something like that or would you rather us to back it with ownership in the company which will make you 10-fold that in years to come?’

“And he said, ‘definitely stock.’

“Everybody asks that question about the $US10 million bonus and I just go, `isn’t it great when you write a big cheque like that and they take half out to taxes immediately?’

“Ownership of the company is a forced savings thing for him and we’re a public company so he can set up for the rest of his life and take care of his family and we think that’s a lot more important than a one time bent-for-hell bonus like that.”

Movie and book deals are also in the works for Slater, and soon he will unveil his Kelly Slater Artificial Wave company project, which has the potential to change the face of surfing.

Slater and McKnight, in conjunction with the University of Southern California, have developed technology which produces a perfect circular artificial wave.