During the first decade of his professional career, Woods was the world's most marketable athlete.[134] Shortly after his 21st birthday in 1996, he signed endorsement deals with numerous companies, including General Motors, Titleist, General Mills, American Express, Accenture, and Nike, Inc. In 2000, he signed a 5-year, $105 million contract extension with Nike, which was the largest endorsement package signed by a professional athlete at that time.[135] Woods' endorsement has been credited with playing a significant role in taking the Nike Golf brand from a "start-up" golf company earlier in the previous decade to becoming the leading golf apparel company in the world and a major player in the equipment and golf ball market.[134][136] Nike Golf is one of the fastest growing brands in the sport, with an estimated $600 million in sales.[137] Woods has been described as the "ultimate endorser" for Nike Golf,[137] frequently seen wearing Nike gear during tournaments, and even in advertisements for other products.[135] Woods receives a percentage from the sales of Nike Golf apparel, footwear, golf equipment, golf balls,[134] and has a building named after him at Nike's headquarters campus in Beaverton, Oregon.[138]
Early in Woods' career, a small number of golf industry analysts expressed concern about his impact on the competitiveness of the game and the public appeal of professional golf. Sportswriter Bill Lyon of Knight Ridder asked in a column, "Isn't Tiger Woods actually bad for golf?" (though Lyon ultimately concluded that he was not).[162] At first, some pundits feared that Woods would drive the spirit of competition out of the game of golf by making existing courses obsolete and relegating opponents to simply competing for second place each week.
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