"But Ricky Carmichael probably makes closer to eight figures a year than he does six, that is, if he's not already making more than $10 million. How is that a bargain for anybody writing checks that big?" a friend of mine was arguing. I was trying hard, though unsuccessfully, to explain how celebrity connections are worth their weight in sales and good will.Most people cannot accurately say what they're worth to their employer-not in terms of bank accounts and stock options-but on a cost-effectiveness basis or, plainly, calculating how much money the company will make every time you write another memo or TPS report. In motocross, it's figuring out how much money Suzuki, Fox, Oakley, DC Shoes and others will each make back in sales and exposure for every lap Carmichael leads, every race he wins, every championship he brings down and every magazine cover he graces. Look at the sheer volume: 13 national AMA titles in nine full racing years and 128 AMA victories through the 2005 U.S. Open of Supercross. Carmichael is the Sam's Club of motocross-everything he does comes in bulk, and there's never been a better bargain."Ha! I never really thought about that.... I think the sponsors are getting a good deal," Carmichael said when asked if he considers himself a bargain to his sponsors. "If you go by what other riders are being paid, and then compare my results to theirs, then, yeah ." Those results in '05 alone include eight AMA supercross victories (including the U.S. Open) and 12 AMA motocross wins. Throw in the two world supercross races in December '04 and the double-moto sweep in France at the Motocross des Nations, and Carmichael has won 23 of the 32 races he entered from December 1, 2004, to December 1, 2005. In that same time period, his well-compensated competition won nine races combined between three riders: Kevin Windham, Chad Reed and James Stewart. David Vuillemin, a consistent top-five finisher in '05, won zero."I don't know that he's a deal, but he is being paid what he deserves," former four-time AMA champion David Bailey said. "I don't think Suzuki can sell enough bikes to pay Ricky Carmichael. Units sold for salary alone isn't worth the investment. The investment is that Suzuki is a good place to be now. Look at the vibe in the Suzuki pits since RC came there. Do you think Tedesco would have gone there without what Carmichael has helped build?" Carmichael's yearly compensation at Suzuki is rumored to be a straight $4.7 million, and his bonuses are already figured into the deal. His previous contract at Honda was said to have been $2 million a year plus race and championship bonuses, of which the latter equated to $1 million a title. Given the amount of races and titles he won at Honda, it doesn't take "new math" to figure out that he could have made more money by staying red. But Honda wouldn't match Suzuki's front-loaded salary program for his new '05 contract."Honda second-guessed RC," Bailey said. "He was thinking and maybe even telling Honda that he was going to win, and Honda wasn't so sure. If you don't believe in Carmichael, he will tell you to get screwed. Never turn your back on RC." Even if Carmichael is an up-front expense to Suzuki, nothing compares to how many aspects of its business model he covers. His compensation, knowledge and experience is spread throughout and pays off in the public relations, advertising, marketing, sales, research and development and racing departments at Suzuki, making him, and any rider who can win that much, the most valuable write-off a company could ever have.