It was easy to snicker when a new commercial debuted in Japan earlier this month showing Tiger Woods hawking a heat rub product (insert whatever joke comes to mind here).
But Woods’ latest promotional deal with Vantelin Kowa rub may be about more than a desire to build his global brand in the far East.
It’s quite possible that Woods actually needs the money — badly.
According to a Fortune Magazine piece published Friday morning, Woods’ earnings may be down as much as $50 million, making it difficult for the former World No. 1 to cover the costs of his lavish lifestyle.
“It's no secret that Woods, once king of the sports world, has suffered financially since his fall from grace. His endorsement list shrank and his marriage ended in a divorce settlement reportedly worth $100 million. But now he may actually be hurting for funds. At the very least, there are signs that he isn't generating enough to comfortably cover his costs.”
In the wake of Woods’ cheating scandal, several major companies booted him from their brands including Gatorade, Accenture, Gillette and Tag Heuer, leaving him with only three big endorsement deals: Nike, EA Sports and now Kowa. And now it appears Nike has slashed Tiger’s allowance as a result of his infidelity.
“His EA Sports video game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour '12, set a first-week franchise record of 225,000 games sold. But our source also tells us that Tiger's Nike money fell by as much as 50 percent in 2010 (to about $10 million, down from $20 million in 2009) and that he will get the same reduced amount for 2011. The reason? Nike penalized him for his indiscretions, reducing his payment for two years as a response to his public behavior. Nike had no comment.”
Tiger was rumored to be making an announcement Monday on the Golf Channel. That never happened, but his agent, Mark Steinberg made an announcement on behalf of Woods, declaring his client would soon be joining Excel Sports. That’s one more small step toward re-filling the piggy bank, but after failing to win a tournament in 2010 and pulling out of the last three big-name events this summer — including this week’s British Open — it’s no surprise Tiger’s well is significantly depleted.
An abandoned billion-dollar golf course and real estate project in Dubai and a new $54.5 million mortgage on his Jupiter Island mansion aren’t helping the cause either.
Granted, with the unemployment rate in the United States up to 9.2 percent, Woods is far from skid row. He still topped Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50 list — which ranks the top-earning American athletes by salary, winnings, endorsements and appearance fees — for the eighth straight year. But his lead over rival Phil Mickleson was shaved down to just over $1 million.
Meantime, Tiger’s ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, seems to be getting along just fine on her own, thank you very much. Nordegren was recently photographed smooching New York marketing executive and former Bridget Moynahan beau Jamie Dingman outside Nordegren’s apartment in Sweden.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified the source of the magazine article as Forbes. The magazine piece was written by Daniel Roberts of Fortune Magazine.