Tiger Woods is officially a billionaire, no thanks to the Saudis

He reportedly turned down a “high nine-figure” deal for a new Saudi-backed golf tour, but that’s okay. Thanks to endorsements and real estate, he’s a billionaire anyway.

Tiger Woods’ limp in South Hills during last month’s PGA Championship was a stark reminder of how much has passed since he wandered the fairways at the 1997 Masters to get his first green jacket time.

Victories, injuries, scandals, defeats and triumphs filled the intervening years again.But through it all, Woods, 46, has maintained his dominance as one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, earning more than $1.7 billion in salary, endorsements and other income over his 27-year career — more than anyone Forbes tracked.

Forbes Based on his lifetime earnings, his net worth is now estimated to be at least $1 billion, making him one of only three known athlete billionaires. Others are NBA superstar LeBron James, who capitalized on his fame and fortune by holding stakes in various businesses, and Michael Jordan, who has benefited from his stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. With timely investment, his post-retirement income reached ten figures.

Woods has reached that scarcity despite reportedly rejecting an “incredibly huge” offer for the new Saudi-backed LIV golf tour, LIV CEO Greg Norman told Washington post It should have been “high nine digits”.

Yet so far, less than 10 percent of Woods’ professional income and net worth has come from golf winnings. Much of his fortune comes from huge endorsement deals with a dozen brands, including Gatorade, Monster Energy, TaylorMade, Rolex and Nike, which he signed in 1996 and remains his biggest backer.

“He met the right time in the right sport, as an approachable athlete with a diverse background,” said Joe Favorito, a veteran sports business consultant and Columbia University lecturer. “Brands like to know they’re getting people that are not just popular with traditional fans, but casual fans as well.”

Woods has used his position and income to expand into a range of other businesses, which now include a golf design company (TGR Design), a live event production company (TGR Live) and a restaurant (The Woods). Through TGR Ventures, Woods has taken a stake in Full Swing, a golf-tech training tool; Heard, a hospitality software startup; and PopStroke, a luxury mini-golf experience with four Florida locations and plans to launch in 2022. Six more locations opened nationwide. Woods was also identified as a partner in the SPAC announced in January, which includes investor British billionaire Joe Lewis’ Tavistock Group, golf rival Ernie Els (Ernie Els) and Justin Timberlake in the NEXUS Luxury Collection, a group of clubs and resorts.

“[He’s] Very skillfully involved in part of the business, creating their own business in a way that the athletes before them didn’t,” said legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, said to be the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s character Jerry Maguire.

Steinberg will know. He still remembers negotiating the largest rookie contract in football history at the time in 1975 — a deal that paid Atlanta Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski $600,000 over four years. Even adjusted for inflation, that’s only about $800,000 a year — less than dozens of NFL rookies earned last year.

What has changed? First, the value of live sports on TV. There are few other shows in the streaming world that still reliably generate massive audiences. In 2011, 51 of the annual top 100 telecasts were sporting events. Last year, that number was 95 out of 100. The dollar size of TV contracts has skyrocketed, taking away player salaries — or, in golf’s case, tournament winnings — with it. Jack Nicklaus earned $5.7 million (less than $40 million in today’s dollars) during his 4-year career that began in 1961. That’s less than a third of Woods’ 27-year inflation-adjusted earnings.

Woods’ impact on golf TV ratings and wallet size cannot be overstated. According to former CBS president Neil Pearson, in the early 2000s, when Woods didn’t play, TV audiences would drop by 30 to 50 percent. The so-called “tiger effect” nearly tripled PGA Tour prize money between 1996 and 2008, while Woods won 14 majors in that period. (He’s still a major attraction, but less so now.)

“Tiger has always been an instigator,” six-time Grand Slam champion Phil Mickelson said in a 2014 interview. “He’s been the guy who really pushed and pushed the bus because he brought in higher ratings, more sponsors, more interest, and we all benefited from it.”

At his peak, Woods was the most prolific athlete spokesperson in history, raking in more than $100 million a year off the court.He was first in the race Forbes‘ List of highest-paid athletes for ten consecutive years, ending in 2012. Even his dramatic fall from grace after the 2009 Thanksgiving car crash didn’t derail his profitability. Over the past 12 months, despite barely teeing off while recovering from a serious car accident, Woods has made $68 million off the field, enough to make him the 14th-highest-paid athlete in the world.

Seeing Woods fighting in palpable pain has sparked a new kind of tiger mania, as fans and sponsors return to his role as a resilient survivor rather than an invincible conqueror. Whether or not Woods swings his golf club again, his wealth is secured. However, he has already announced his commitment to the Open Championship at St Andrews this summer and has not ruled out playing in this month’s U.S. Open despite withdrawing from last month’s final round of the PGA Championship due to surgery soreness. Repair the legs and back.

“Initially he was a clean-cut role model; he was the epitome of the American dream,” Steinberg said. “In some ways, the struggle will only add to his profile.”

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