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What Phil Mickelson Has To Lose

Forget the FBI and SEC. The prickly matter that’s going to end up hurting Phil Mickelson the most in this insider-trading investigation is that he has been inexorably linked to Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters.
While it’s unlikely that Mickelson is going to find himself in any kind of legal trouble, his reputation as an endorser could wind up in grave danger. Mickelson is reported to make more than $40 million in off-course income each year, most of that from his endorsement partners Callaway, Barclays, KPMG, Exxon, Rolex and Amgen/Pfizer. He is No. 7 on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes.
You’d think that a man who makes that kind of money wouldn’t need to gamble. But if the FBI and the SEC are right, Mickelson placed a high-stakes bet in the stock market, allegedly based on information that was illegally passed along from Walters, who authorities reportedly say got the information from billionaire Carl Icahn.
None of the three say they are being investigated but according to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, independent of one another, the investigation is ongoing and began more than two years ago. It is looking, among other things, at unusual options purchases in the stock Clorox in and around the time Icahn was attempting a hostile takeover of the company in 2011.
Both Mickelson and Walters are said to have bought a large number of out-of-the-money call options in Clorox about 36 hours before Icahn announced his takeover bid. The stock price spiked, making the options worth several million dollars. Walters, according to a source, says he didn’t get any information from Icahn. Then the question becomes: Did he receive the information from anyone associated with Icahn? And did he pass the information to Mickelson?


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