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Tiger Woods is officially a billionaire! -Forbes France

Tiger Woods reportedly turned down a nine-figure contract to play on the new Saudi-funded golf tour, but no matter. Thanks to his sponsorship contracts and his real estate portfolio, the famous American golfer is a billionaire!

The laborious limp of Tiger Woods during the PGA Championship in Southern Hills last month reminded the world of a terrible reality: time flies, even for the golf star who won his first green jacket at the Masters in 1997.

Triumph, injury, scandal, failure and re-triumph have marked the course of Tiger Woods. Throughout, the 46-year-old golfer has maintained his supremacy as one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the world, racking up over $1.7 billion in salaries and other non-sporting income over his 27-year career, more than any other sportsperson according to Forbes.

From now on, Forbes estimates that the net worth of the golfer amounts to at least a billion dollars, based on his lifetime earnings, making Tiger Woods one of only three sports billionaires to date. The other two billionaire athletes are the basketball superstar LeBron Jameswho leveraged his notoriety and fortune by taking stakes in a number of companies, and Michael Jordananother basketball star, who became a billionaire after his retirement thanks to a timely investment in the Charlotte Hornets.

Tiger Woods passed this exceptional milestone even as he turned down a ‘stunning’ offer to take part in the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour, a deal which, according to Greg Norman, CEO of LIV, reportedly reached “nine figures. »

To date, less than 10% of Tiger Woods’ career earnings, and net worth, have come from his athletic earnings. The bulk of his fortune comes from huge sponsorship deals with more than a dozen brands, including Gatorade, Monster Energy, TaylorMade, rolex or Nikewith whom he signed in 1996 and who remains his main sponsor.

“He arrived at the right time, in the right sport, as a sportsman with a different and accessible past,” explains Joe Favorite, a seasoned sports business consultant and professor at Columbia University. “Brands like to know they’re hiring someone who is valued not only by traditional fans, but by casual fans as well. »

Tiger Woods used his status and earnings to grow his fortune by investing in other businesses, including TGR Design, TGR Live and a restaurant called The Woods. Through TGR VenturesTiger Woods took stakes in full-swinga golf technology training tool, hearinga hospitality software startup, and PopStroke, a luxury mini-golf experience. The American golfer is also a partner in a SPAC announced last January, and he is an investor alongside Tavistock Group (belongs to British billionaire Joe Lewis) in Ernie Elsand of Justin Timberlake in NEXUS Luxury Collection.

“He was extremely skilled in taking shares in companies, in creating his own company, like no other sportsman before him”, says the legendary sports agent Leigh Steinbergfamous for having inspired the character of Tom Cruise in jerry maguire.

And Leigh Steinberg knows what he’s talking about. In 1975, he negotiated the biggest rookie deal in American football history at the time, a contract that included paying the sum of $600,000 over four years at quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Steve Bartkowski. Even adjusting for inflation, that’s only about $800,000 a year, less than dozens of NFL rookies earned last year.

What changed ? Above all, the value of live sport on television. In a world of streaming, almost no other programming can reliably generate a massive audience yet. In 2011, 51 of the top 100 TV shows of the year were sporting events. Last year, that figure was 95 out of 100. The amount of TV contracts has skyrocketed, as have player salaries (or, in the case of golf, tournament prize money). Jack Nicklaus won $5.7 million over its 40-year career, which began in 1961, is less than $40 million today. That’s less than a third of what Tiger Woods has earned in 27 years, taking inflation into account.

The effects of Tiger Woods on golf’s television ratings, and on tournament prize money, cannot be underestimated. In the early 2000s, according to the former president of CBS, Neal Pilson, television ratings dropped by 30 to 50% when Tiger Woods was not in contention during a tournament. What is known as the “Tiger Effect” helped triple PGA Tour prize money between 1996 and 2008, a period in which Tiger Woods won 14 major championships.

“Tiger was the instigator,” said Phil Mickelson, in a 2014 interview. »

At his peak, Tiger Woods was the most prolific sportsman in history in terms of sponsorship, winning more than 100 million dollars per year off the golf greens. He took first place in the ranking Forbes highest-paid athletes for ten consecutive years, until 2012. Even his car accident in 2009 did not affect his ability to grow his fortune. Over the past 12 months, despite playing virtually no golf, Tiger Woods has earned $68 million in non-sports revenue, placing him 14the place in the ranking Forbes highest paid athletes in 2022.

Watching the golf star fight through obvious pain sparked a new form of ‘Tiger mania’, with fans and sponsors once again supporting him in his role as a resilient survivor rather than an invincible conqueror. Tiger Woods’ fortune is assured whether or not he drives back the golf greens. Still, he has already announced that he will be competing at the Open Championship this summer in St Andrews, and he hasn’t ruled out competing at the US Open Championship this month.

“At the start, he was a model of honesty, he was someone who embodied the American dream,” says Leigh Steinberg. “In a way, the struggles only strengthened his image. »

Article translated from Forbes US – Author: Matt Craig

<<< To read also: LeBron James officially billionaire! >>>

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