After Tiger Woods issued a mea culpa for his “personal failings,” companies that have made him one of the richest men in sports lined up to pledge their support for their spokesman.
“Our strong relationship with Tiger for more than a decade remains unchanged,” said a spokesperson for EA Sports, makers of his hugely popular Tiger Woods Golf video game. “We respect Tiger’s privacy, we wish him a fast recovery and we look forward to seeing him back on the golf course.”
Other major sponsors, including Nike and Gillette, both say they have no plans to alter their marketing efforts, which heavily rely on Woods.
Gatorade, which has a drink named after the golfer, also will continue its relationship. “Tiger and his family have our support as they work through this private matter,” a Gatorade spokesperson said.
Forbes recently said Woods has made $1 billion dollars since 1996. One of the big reasons none of the sponsorships will change is because of the brands he’s hawking, says Terry Lefton, editor at large from Sports Business Daily.
“If he were a Disney spokesman, it would be a different story. None of these are really family-oriented type of sponsorships. If you’re a sponsor you’re concerned, but not overly so. This is the same America that has shown it will forgive. From [President Bill Clinton] we’ve discovered that American’s are fairly willing to forgive in this area.”
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Especially if Woods keeps on winning tournaments. He backed out of the Chevron World Challenge in California this week, but will resume the PGA tour next year.
“There are a lot of people who really don’t care about someone’s personal life and there are others that are interested in the story as the juicy details come out, but six months from now they want to see him play golf,” says Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. “Winning is the best medicine.”
Wetzel adds: “You’re not going to see a lot of commercials around Christmas with Tiger, but at the end of the day he’s still the most popular and probably well known athlete in the world and so for corporations to give up on him would be really risky.”