Report: Phil Mickelson’s Gambling Addiction Led to $40 Million in Losses

A forthcoming biography about Mickelson by golf writer Alan Shipnuck contains some previously unknown details

Phil Mickelson hits an approach shot on the 17th hole at the PIF Saudi International
Phil Mickelson hits an approach shot on the 17th hole at the PIF Saudi International.
Oisin Keniry/Getty

In an excerpt from his forthcoming biography Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar that was published on, golf writer Alan Shipnuck alleges that Phil Mickelson’s reputation for gambling is well deserved and that the scale of his losses is far greater than had previously been reported.

In the book, Shipnuck poses the theory that the real motivation for Mickelson being interested in playing in the new Saudi-backed golf league instead of on the PGA Tour is “the funny money being offered by the Saudis” and that reason he wants the cash is at least to partially offset his gambling losses.

“According to a source with direct access to the documents, Mickelson had gambling losses totaling more than $40 million in the four-year period (2010–14) that was scrutinized,” Shipnuck writes. “In those prime earning years, his income was estimated to be just north of $40 million a year. That’s an obscene amount of money, but once he paid his taxes (including the California tariffs he publicly railed against), he was left with, what, low-20s? Then he had to cover his plane and mansion(s), plus his agent, caddie, pilots, chef, personal trainer, swing coaches and sundry others. Throw in all the other expenses of a big life — like an actual T. Rex skull for a birthday present — and that leaves, what, $10 million? Per the government audit, that’s roughly how much Mickelson averaged in annual gambling losses. (And we don’t know what we don’t know.) In other words, it’s quite possible he was barely breaking even, or maybe even in the red. And Mickelson’s income dropped considerably during his winless years from 2014 to ’17.”

Mickelson, who didn’t compete in the Masters last month and may not be on the course to defend his 2021 PGA Championship title in less than two weeks at Southern Hills in Tulsa, won five times from 2010-14 (including a pair of majors), has yet to address the allegation with the media. It’s certainly possible the 51-year-old would rather avoid PGA Tour events entirely for the foreseeable future instead of facing questions about his alleged gambling addiction.

“It’s a staggering number,” writes managing editor Josh Berhow. “Just yet another unsavory question he’ll have to face when he returns and meets with the media. I’m not sure if he’ll actually answer it, but wow is there a lot going on in Phil Mickelson’s world right now.”

Just wait until Shipnuck’s book drops on May 17.

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