Tiger Woods and Nike’s 27-year deal was one of the most iconic athlete-brand…..See Photos

Monday marked the end of an era, as Tiger Woods and Nike Golf announced their split after nearly three decades together.

Woods and Nike’s 27-year deal was one of the most iconic athlete-brand partnerships in sports history, perhaps only topped by Michael Jordan and his relationship with Nike and the Air Jordan brand.

 

And of course, the Woods-Nike partnership was mutually beneficial.

Forbes keeps a real-time net-worth calculator for the top athletes in the world, and as of this writing it estimates Woods’ net worth at $1.1 billion. He’s earned just under $121 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour alone — about $41 million more than the next-highest on that list, Rory McIlroy ($80 million) — and Forbes estimates Woods has earned about $1.8 billion in his pro golf career via winnings, appearance fees and endorsements.

Nike has contributed significantly to that fortune, too.

Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, famously watched Woods win his third straight U.S. Amateur when he beat Steve Scott at Pumpkin Ridge in 1996. Knight had been recruiting Woods for years, and Nike was just days away from making it all official.

After he won the U.S. Am, Woods turned pro and signed what was reportedly a five-year, $40 million contract with Nike — at the time the most lucrative endorsement deal for a pro athlete ever. (The “Hello, World” commercial came next.)

As Woods began his ascent in pro golf, his star rose. And so did Nike’s bottom line (Woods wore Nike gear and eventually used their clubs and ball; they also developed his “TW” brand). According to ESPN, Woods and Nike extended their relationship with a five-year, $100 million contract in 2001, and an eight-year deal reportedly worth between $20-40 million annually was signed in 2006. It was extended again in 2013, reportedly for 10 years and $200 million, according to The Oregonian. That contract turned out to be his last with Nike.

Amid rumors at the PNC Championship last month — Nike had also announced it planned to cut $2 billion in costs over a three-year span — Woods was asked if the end of his relationship with Nike was nearing.

“I’m still wearing their product,” he said, before repeating the same answer to a follow-up question.

While it’s impossible to put an exact number on the money Woods has made with his Nike deals, it’s safe to say he’s earned roughly $500 million through his contacts over the span of their 27-year relationship. Likely more, given the conflicting reports that his compensation from the eight-year deal signed in 2006 was at least $20 million annually but potentially as much as $40 million.

But Nike was a winner here too. The company left the equipment business in 2016, but it continued its apparel relationship with Woods and a few other golfers. In fact, when Woods won the 2019 Masters — 11 years after his last major victory — Apex Marketing estimated the brand value Nike received from Woods’ on-camera exposure during the final round of the CBS broadcast at more than $22 million.

“For over 27 years, we have had the honor to partner with Tiger Woods, one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen,” a statement from Nike posted on Monday read. “Throughout the course of our partnership, we have witnessed along with the rest of the world, how Tiger not only redefined the sport of golf but broke barriers for all of sport. We watched him set records, challenge conventional thinking and inspire generations of people around the globe. We are grateful to have been a part of it. We wish him the best in the future.”

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