And the worst footnote of 2010 was…

Each year for the past four years, we’ve asked you — footnoted readers — to vote on which footnote buried deep in the bowels of SEC filings merits our top prize for worst footnote of the year. And this year, footnoted readers chose Don Tyson of Tyson Foods (TSN). Here’s the disclosure, which we just footnoted last month:

WHEREAS, pursuant to the SEAA, the Company agreed to provide for Employee’s reasonable personal use certain of the Company’s real property and a boat at previously established rates…

WHEREAS, since the date of the SEAA, the Company has sold or otherwise discontinued availability of the Benefits; and

WHEREAS, due to such Benefits no longer being available to Employee, the Company and Employee now desire to amend the SEAA as provided in this Amendment to partially compensate Employee for the loss of the Benefits.

As we wrote last month, that’s lawyer speak for giving Tyson benefits that were taken away following an embarrassing SEC investigation that essentially found that the family was using the company as a personal piggy bank by allowing Tyson (the company) to pay for such things as a boat, a house in Cabo San Lucas and another in the English countryside.

True, this year’s contest wasn’t a blow-away like the infamous Qwest disclosure that gave the CEO’s step-daughter access to the corporate jet. And it may not be as amusing as last year’s antique map collection. But it’s still pretty brazen behavior that we think is worthy of the high honor that footnoted readers have bestowed upon it.

One other thing about this totally unscientific contest: when we go back and look at how the past “winners” have performed over the following year, we found that every single one underperformed the market. Which makes the winner of our annual contest more like a loser for investors.