For years Tiger Woods was the highest paid athlete in the world with revenues from prize winnings and endorsements approaching $100 million annually.
Tiger’s fall from grace has affected his endorsement earnings with major sponsors American Express, Gatorade, Accenture, Gillette, Golf Digest and Tag Heuer dropping him after his sex scandal became public in 2009.
Nike has been the one constant in Tiger’s life. They stayed with Woods, paying him an estimated $35 million per year. CNN reported that, with a $54 million annual endorsement income, Tiger fell behind Phil Mickelson on the highest paid athlete’s endorsement money list.
The hottest property for endorsement dollars on the world stage is now Rory McIlroy. Over the past two years the No. 1 golfer in the world has won six titles including two majors and over $13 million on the PGA Tour. Rory also won another $3 million on the European Tour plus bonus money from both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai. Add to those factors his personable demeanor, high profile girlfriend, tennis professional Caroline Wozniacki, and the fact that he is only 23 years old, McIlroy has a huge upside.
Rory’s current endorsement contract with Titleist ends at the end of this year. It has been rumored that Nike is actively seeking to add McIlroy to its impressive stable of athletes. The Guardian has reported that McIlroy is close to signing a 10-year $250 million endorsement deal with Nike.
I have to think that Taylormade/Adidas is also involved in the bidding along with his current sponsor Titleist/Foot Joy.
Could we see new best buddies Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both sporting the Nike Swoosh when they tee it up for the first time in 2013 in Abu Dhabi?