Tiger Woods: $100 Million a Year and $1 Billion in Total, Why?

David PaisieContributor IIFebruary 7, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC - DECEMBER 14:  An outdoor billboard featuring an ad for The Cliffs High Carolina community which is planning a Tiger Woods designed golf course is seen on December 14, 2009 in Asheville, North Carolina. Tiger Woods announced that he will take an indefinite break from professional golf to concentrate on repairing family relations after admitting to infidelity in his marriage.  (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Prior to the recent problems of Tiger Woods, Tiger was making approximately $100 million per year.  Of this $100 million, about 90 percent of it came from endorsements. 

Tiger recently passed the $1 billion mark in lifetime earnings.  He has become the first billion-dollar athlete. 

In all the reporting of the above-mentioned numbers by the major media outlets, I have not seen one question from any of its members as to why a person who simply plays golf for a living has made such a large sum of money. 

Of course, the media’s indifference really doesn’t surprise me all that much since most of the people who work in that line of work don’t appear to me to either have the ability to have an independent thought or the guts to have one.

(Much safer to just read the words off the teleprompter that are given to them vs. saying anything of substance.)   

Having stated the above thought, to be fair, there are a few people in the media that I believe can think a bit, but they have sadly chosen to remain silent. 

Why do you think they have remained silent?

Think it might be they don’t want to upset the companies that advertise on their networks and happen to also pay Tiger these huge sums of money?  I think this is the reason. 

(The above stated thought, in my opinion, is a good argument that the country might be better off with commercial free television, less influence from corporations, and more independent reporting from the media.)

The question that needs to be asked on this subject of Tiger receiving these huge sums of money is this:  Why is Tiger worth so much money?  What has he done to make him worth such a large sum of money?

Has Tiger started a company that has come up with a great new product that has impacted everyone’s lives or created new jobs, similar to Bill Gates?  The answer is no.

Has Tiger started a pharmaceutical company that has developed a new drug that is successful in fighting off the AIDS virus?  The answer is no.

What has Tiger done in the 34 years he has been on the planet?  He has basically only played golf since the age of two.  I will admit he plays golf very well, but is that ability to play golf worth $1 billion? 

Can anyone really come up with a rational argument for someone making the amount of money that Tiger has made when his only skill and his only contribution to society is playing golf? 

I must admit that I am a golf fanatic.  I love the game and the challenge that it offers.  However, I also know it is just a game, nothing more than that.  In my opinion, anyone who only plays golf for a living is not worth these large sums of money. 

I enjoy watching professional golf.  However, I must admit I enjoyed it far more back in the 1970's when there were more interesting people playing the game professionally (Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Player, Miller, Floyd, Watson, etc.).  

Players back in the 1970's then had very different personalities and very different swings.  Now, the players come across as robots.  They all have very similar cookie-cutter swings and almost no personalities. 

Gone are the days of Chi Chi Rodriguez doing his routine with his putter (i.e., using it like a sword).  Gone are the days of Lee Trevino joking around with the crowd.  Gone are the unique swings of Raymond Floyd or Arnold Palmer.  Gone are the days of unique clothes like those worn by Payne Stewart or Doug Sanders. 

Now all we have are guys who all dress basically the same, swing the same, and have nothing to say of any interest. 

Tiger is no exception to what I wrote above.  The only difference between him and the other current players is that he is the greatest winner in golf since Jack Nicklaus. 

I will give Tiger credit in that he is the only current player that really seems to care about winning, and thus he wins a lot.  But, does that make him worth all this money? 

I would have to answer the above question with a very big no.  What does he add to society to justify taking so much out?  I can't come up with any justification.  In my opinion, he is, to sum things up, a net taker by a large margin. 

In my opinion, the United States has become a very strange place to live over the past 20-30 years.  We have become obsessed with famous people.  So many people follow celebrities like they are the only thing that is important. 

What has happened to rational thinking in the U.S.?  What has happened to having real heroes vs. made-up ones? 

In the United States, we used to honor great inventors, great creators of companies, great scientists, and great leaders. 

Sure, we used to honor athletes, as well.  And, we used to follow celebrities.  But, it wasn't in your face like it is now. 

You can no longer watch a news program in this country without having to watch some story on a celebrity.  This was not always the case. 

The problem now is that we only honor athletes and celebrities.  When is the last time we talked about any inventor in this country beyond Steve Jobs? 

Obviously, Tiger has made all this money because companies believe he is going to help sell their products or services.  But, does this make any sense?  Let's break it down. 

Tiger has endorsed Nike golf since the start of his professional career.  I can understand if people bought Nike golf equipment because Tiger not only endorses them, but actually uses them.  People tend to copy the professional golfers in terms of what golf equipment they use.  I can understand that.  That makes sense to me.

Tiger used to endorse products such as Buick automobiles, Tag watches, Accenture consultants, AT&T, and Gillette.  Did he really help these companies out so much that he was worth close to tens of millions of dollars to them each year?

I read a couple of years ago that the average age of Buick owner in the U.S. was 67 years old.  Did Tiger do anything for their sales?  Did he attract younger buyers to the Buick brand?  I don't think so.  Buick’s percentage of the U.S. market is extremely small. 

(To digress for a moment, the Buick brand would have been recently killed off, similar to the Pontiac brand, if not for it being the lead General Motors’ brand in China. For some reason GM chose the Buick brand instead of Chevy to be the lead brand in China. I guess another brilliant move by GM. Why go with your biggest brand, Chevy, in the country of the future.  Instead, go with a dying brand so you are forced to keep it around vs. killing it, huh?) 

With Tiger’s money, I highly doubt he was driving around in a Buick.  He is a young guy.  One would hope he was driving around in something a bit more hip when he was not at a tournament and was not forced to be seen in a Buick. 

Does anyone know of people that bought a Tag watch or a Gillette razor because Tiger endorsed them?  I don't know of anyone.  Maybe these types of people exist, but who are they and why would Tiger make them buy a certain type of watch or razor? 

Who cares what watch Tiger uses?  When did he become the expert on watches or fashion?  Maybe basing your purchase of a cell phone on Tiger, based on his huge reliance on them, might be a better choice, huh?

Who cares what razor Tiger uses?  He doesn’t appear to have a super heavy beard (this based on his prior feeble attempts to grow a goatee).  Therefore, I wouldn’t say he would be a great choice to base a purchase of a razor on.  Maybe Schick is better, people?

Are people so shallow that they make their purchasing decisions based on some golfer endorsing a product that has nothing to do with golf?  I would hope not, but sadly there are probably people out there that make those types of decisions. 

Did business people use Accenture, a business consulting firm, because Tiger was in their ads?  I would hope not.  I would hope that business people made the decision based on substantive things and not because a great golfer endorsed their services.

In my opinion, Tiger’s endorsement deals with Nike and EA sports make sense from a business standpoint.  I think he has helped them generate sales.  But, all the other products he endorses really don’t make sense to me.  I would think any additional sales would be minor, at best.     

With the above statements in mind, it is time to come back to the questions I raised at the start of this article. They are as follows: Why is Tiger worth so much money?  What has he done to make him worth such a large sum of money?

I would hope most people would agree that the $1 billion Tiger has received in his lifetime could have been used for much better purposes. 

The money could have been used for cancer research, heart research, invested in new technologies that could create new jobs for people and bring new wealth into the country, build bettor mass transit systems, use it to fix the countries crumbling infrastructure, or maybe increasing the salaries of teachers so we have a better educational system. 

To be frank, this huge sum of money could have been used in many better ways than giving it to a guy that plays the game of golf for a living and then does nothing of value with it.

People, please don’t throw Tiger’s foundation that he started back at me as evidence he is doing all this good with his money.  Please think a bit first.

Are any real inter-city kids from Detroit, L.A., Chicago, or Philadelphia being helped or impacted by Tiger’s foundation or is it only impacting kids from the suburbs? 

I saw a Tiger interview on "60 Minutes" a few years ago.  During the story on Tiger they showed the kids at his learning center in LA.  They all looked like kids from the suburbs to me, based on how nicely dressed they all were.  It didn’t appear any inter-city kids were being helped. 

I think most would agree the kids from the county’s large inner cities are the ones that need to be helped the most. 

Sadly, most of these foundations appear to be nothing more than a PR moves.  Tiger’s foundation doesn’t appear to be any different.  Sure, some good comes out his foundation, but how much is Tiger giving to it in terms of time or money? 

Based on recent revelations about Tiger, I don’t see how he could have been spending much time on his foundation.  He appeared to be far too busy with other matters, which I won’t get into since that was his personal business. 

In terms of money, I would guess Tiger hasn’t been the major source of money.  My guess is his golf tournament in California primarily funds his foundation, not Tiger himself.  The people paying to get into the tournament fund it. 

There is one final point I would like to make and I think it is very important.  It is as follows: For the U.S. to really get back on track, we have to stop paying huge sums of money to people that really don’t help to generate any net increase in wealth for the nation.  

We need to start utilizing the nation’s wealth in much better ways or this nation will eventually crumble. (We are probably heading for a huge fall, based on events that have occurred over the last year or so.)   

Simply put, we need to stop throwing huge sums of money at people who don’t do anything of real value to have earned it and then don’t do anything of real value with it. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.