Brooks Koepka confirms $100 million-plus LIV deal, reason for PGA Tour exit
BS w/ Jake Paul
Brandon Amato (host): “What’s going on?”
Brooks Koepka: “Not a whole lot, man. Just got back from Italy…”
BA: “What were you in Italy for?”
BK: “Ryder Cup.”
Jake Paul (host): “So that was the U.S. versus…”
Why does that matter? It matters because typically when Koepka is facing questions it’s from a collection of golf-media members who don’t just know the date and general location of the Ryder Cup but also have an encyclopedic understanding of Koepka’s career, how it fits in the larger golf landscape and maybe even the specs of the driver in his bag. They — we? — may know a little bit too much. It can be stifling. That’s not to say he isn’t interesting in golf press conferences. He is! But there are benefits to him sitting in with people from outside the golf world, whether its his semi-regular appearances on Pardon My Take or this, BS w/ Jake Paul. Especially when it gets us closer to answering one of the bigger questions of Koepka’s professional golfing life:
Why’d he go to LIV?
For starters, it’s interesting hearing Koepka get asked to explain what’s going on with the LIV/PGA Tour merger. Whether it’s the setting, the hosts or the bluntness of the question, in this setting he’s incentivized to actually try to answer.
“There was some talk of how can they both exist?” Koepka said. “They both can’t do it. You divided some of the best players in the world and then now they’re trying to bring them all back together. So I know as much about it as anybody else. It’s a merger. That’s all I know. There’s going to be a NewCo where hopefully all the best players in the world are going to get back together, everybody can see them in one event instead of it being so fractured.”
That was followed with another particularly direct question that’s better coming from aspiring billionaire Jake Paul than a microphone-wielding golf reporter:
“Can you tell us, like, how big the LIV contract was?”
“It was good,” Koepka said with a smile.
We know, generally, how big Koepka’s contract was. Reports had it in the range of $100 million for a four-year deal. But he’s never publicly confirmed that amount. That is, until Paul pushed for more specifics — “good like, eight figures, nine figures…?” — and Koepka responded.
“It was nine.”
“For those who can’t count, that’s like, $100 million or more,” Paul explained to camera.
And then came the big-picture explanation, in which Koepka offered his motivation behind defecting from the PGA Tour to join the controversial startup.
“I’m gonna be honest with you: I signed for the dough,” he said. “I’m 100 percent behind that. Tomorrow I can go get in a car accident and never play golf again and my family’s taken care of. And that was a big thing for me, like, I’m not doing it for anything else. Everybody else, they go to their 9 to 5, most people don’t like their 9 to 5 but they’re doing it because of their paycheck, and that is the same thing as us.”
Whatever you think of that explanation and however you may feel about Koepka, LIV or the PGA Tour, it feels honest and straightforward and you can go from there. (Although it’s worth noting that Koepka already had banked in the neighborhood of $40 million just in on-course earnings before joining LIV.) And while Koepka did add a point of clarification — he actually does love golf, despite not watching much in his free time — he’s eager to maximize his value.
“I’d say that I would do it for free because I love it that much,” he said. “But at the same time, we’ve gotta take care of each other.”
It’s safe to say Koepka found a group of sympathetic hosts.
“You gotta go where the money’s at. The money’s definitely in Saudi,” one responded.
Koepka dished on plenty else in the interview, too.
He explained his Netflix appearance, which came at a low point in his career:
“I lost all confidence. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to keep playing, which I think is really kind of. It’s not fun,” he said. But he also explained that, to get out of that state, he dove into the work.
“I was like, you know what? I’ve got to re commit myself to the rehab, make sure that rehab is fully done every single day. And my knee, then you know what? I’m going to train harder in the gym, and I’m just going to practice harder. I’m just going to refuse to lose. I’m not going to. I’m not going to let this thing break me.”
He also told a terrific story about an exchange with his longtime caddie (and good friend), Ricky Elliott:
“Two years ago, I hit a dumb shot and I blamed him. Whatever, it happens, we get into a little argument and I said something and he told me to ‘shut the f— up.’
“And I responded, I forget what I said. But we didn’t talk for the rest of the tournament, which is three more days.
“We didn’t say one word to each other, but we still showed up. And you’ve got 5 hours with the guy!”
Koepka confirmed that it was all good with Elliott shortly thereafter — “he’s the best” he said, and “you hash it out, you figure it out and you move on” — but it was still a look into the intensity of Koepka’s on-course persona.
The interviewers revisited his feud with Bryson DeChambeau, with Paul offering to put up $1 million for each of them to square off in a boxing match. Koepka was down for that. They talked about the moment he became better at golf than his father — at age 13, though “to this day, I don’t think he even admits it,” Koepka added — and about the feeling of being a father himself.
He teased the idea that he’d still like to get to double-digit majors, and that if he could just win two more, to get to seven, he’d be in the top 10 of all time.
They even get into a debate on the merits of flying private internationally versus a first-class seat on Emirates. (“It’s like, a shower with a whole-ass bathroom,” Koepka explains.)
The most telling moment came from the pod’s third host, Jasper, in disbelief when Koepka mentioned flying private to Saudi Arabia for LIV’s final regular-season event.
“This golf s— is like money laundering,” he said. “I need in.”
You can watch the full episode here.