By Richard Muscio, CPA
A big congratulation goes to ESPN and Mr. Don Van Natta, as I see they have completed their move from being serious sports journalists to beings sensationalistic purveyors of pap, which rhymes with crap.
In his piece “The Match Maker,” Mr. Van Natta asserts that Bobby Riggs threw his 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against Billie Jean King to pay off a $100,000 gambling debt to the Mob. Well, I side with Billie Jean King, Larry Riggs, and Lorne Kuhle on this one, in asserting that this is pure nonsense. Mr. Van Natta’s source is a soon-to-be octogenarian former assistant golf pro, who from his extensive experience with golf, appears to be very familiar with bad lies.
I know a bit about Bobby Riggs and the Battle of the Sexes and 1973, because 40 years ago I was Bobby Riggs’ scrapbook maker, quite the exciting job for a high school freshman I might add. In addition to creating over 2,500 pages of scrapbooks from the Mother’s Day Massacre v. Margaret Court and then the Battle of the Sexes, I am also the person who 40 years later located the Court v. Riggs match footage, including Bobby handing Margaret the Mother’s Day roses and Margaret’s infamous thank you curtsy that appears in the upcoming PBS documentary, after it was believed to have been lost almost 40 years ago.
Mr. Van Natta mentions in his piece how Bobby Riggs received a $1 million plus marital settlement (which was income-tax free by the way) from his divorce a few months before the alleged otherwise un-payable $100,000 debt to the Mob. But he fails to explain how someone who had just received $1 million dollars could so quickly lose all that money, and then some, and be in debt to such a large extent. Oh, I guess because that never happened…
Further, look at how much money Bobby Riggs earned in 1973.
He was at the height of his earning capabilities circa 1973. After being Bobby’s scrapbook maker in 1973, I grew up to be a CPA. In the mid 1980’s, I was retained through my Uncle John Riggs to assist with attempting to resolve a mess Bobby had gotten himself into with the state of California. Bobby asserted he was not a California resident…good luck with that argument; maybe Mr. Van Natta can do his next expose about Bobby’s California tax case.
In any case, I wound up with over 10 years of Bobby’s tax returns, including for year 1973. Standards of my profession do not allow me to disclose Bobby’s income. However, I can make one statement that is an inarguable fact: there is one other extremely feared institution that goes by three letters in this country besides the Mob: Namely, the IRS.
So I’ll put it this way: if Bobby Riggs did indeed write a $100,000 check to the Mob in 1973, then this $100,000 check was apparently only the second-largest check Bobby wrote to widely-feared, three-letter institutions that year. (Oh, and California got its share later.)
Bobby Riggs had just received a tax-free marital settlement in excess of $1 million in late 1972, and he was at the height of his earnings power. He didn’t need to throw the Battle of the Sexes to pay off a $100,000 gambling debt, if such debt ever even existed.
And I will let you speculate about whether you believe Bobby bothered to report 100% of his income on his tax returns. Same for whether the Mob ordered a hit on JFK. But in the case of whether Bobby threw the Battle of the Sexes against Billie Jean, take it from a CPA: the numbers never lie.
Richard Muscio is “The Family Office Guy” and a CPA in Rancho Santa Fe, California. While in high school in 1973-74, he worked for Bobby Riggs as Bobby’s scrapbook maker. His book So What’s Your Play? How Billie Jean, Bobby and Blindness Begat Tolerance by Sherpa Press is scheduled for release on September 10. There are no Mob figures contained in Richard’s book, however a lot of people who volunteer to make their community a better place are featured. His websites are www.iymoney.com and www.sowhatsyourplay.com and he may be reached at 858.779.9076