I cover sports business with rare dip in education & local economies
Golfer Tiger Woods ranked No. 7 on Forbes first-ever list of America’s Wealthiest Celebrities with an estimated net worth of $740 million. The 14-time Majors winner ranked between Diddy ($750 million) and Dr. Dre ($710 million). Star Wars creator George Lucas topped the ranks with a $4.6 billion fortune. The only other athletes to crack the top 20 were NBA-legend Michael Jordan ($1.2 billion) and Woods’ longtime rival Phil Mickelson ($375 million). Woods, who turns 41 on Dec. 30, is the youngest member of the list.
Tiger Woods back on the course after a 15-month break to recover from back surgery. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Woods has earned $1.4 billion from prize money, endorsements and fees from appearances and golf course designs since turning pro in 1996. It is more than any athlete in the history of sports (Jordan earned more when adjusted for inflation). Less than 10% of Woods’ tally is from prize money with sponsorships his main source of revenue.
Woods banked $100 million annually off the course at his peak in the late 2000s when he was the most sought after endorser in sports. He was the highest-paid athlete in the world for 11 straight years. Those days are long gone since his infamous 2009 Thanksgiving evening car crash and the resulting scandal, but Woods still managed to bank $45 million from endorsements and course design fees in the 12 months ending June 2016.
He ranked No. 12 among the world’s highest-paid athletes this year despite being sidelined from golf almost the entire time as he recovered from back surgery. Woods teed it up for the first since August 2015 in this month’s Hero World Challenge, which he hosts with the tourney acting as a benefit for this foundation.
His golf course design business has gotten a reboot after some initial sputters tied to the financial crisis in the late 2000s. Woods opened his first U.S.-based course in 2015 outside of Houston (a previous Woods-designed course opened in Mexico the prior year). He has several other course projects in the works, including the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai set to open in 2017. The development with villas costing up to $9.5 million is a partnership between Donald Trump and Dubai property developer Hussain Sajwani with Woods lending his design efforts to the golf course.
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Woods has added two sponsors to his portfolio in the past month. Hansen Natural’s Monster Energy logo will appear on his golf bag. It is a departure for the brand, which typically focused its sponsorships on action sports and motorsports, including Nascar’s new title sponsorship. Woods also inked a deal with Bridgestone to play their golf balls after longtime partner Nike announced plans to get out of the golf equipment business. Woods maintains his relationship with Nike for apparel and also counts Kowa, Hero, Upper Deck and Rolex as sponsors.
Woods has several major assets to his name. His biggest physical asset is his $60 million, 10-acre property he bought in 2007 in Jupiter Island, Fla. Woods' also has a lucrative PGA Tour pension estimated to be worth $20 million by PGA Tour insider Ron Sirak. The pension plan is the best in sports and based on deferred FedEx Cup bonus money and a cuts-made bonus system.
Stories of Woods' pension plan reaching $1 billion made the rounds when the golfer was at his peak and PGA revenue was booming. Those projections proved wildly inflated as PGA revenue slowed, the stock market tanked and more FedEx Cup money was paid upfront. Pension or not, Woods is well on his way to being a billionaire.