There may be no more infamous endorsement in sports than the one between Nike and Tiger Woods. One of the most well-known golfers in history has been with the iconic brand since the start of his professional career and has remained with them ever since. There have been a few bumps in the road, but Woods and Nike are a powerful pairing.
Since first signing with Nike in 1996 before his pro debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open, we’ve seen commercials with Woods, custom gear and much more. We’re going to take a deeper look into Tiger’s Nike contract and the history behind the brand and the golfer, starting with the various deals he’s signed.
Tiger Has Reportedly Signed Four Nike Contracts
While the first deal Woods signed with Nike came in 1996, he’s since re-upped that contract four different times, according to John Strege of Golf Digest. The first deal was a five-year agreement worth $40 million, which looks small compared to some of the others signed by the golfer.
It was reported that Woods’ second contract came in 2001 when he signed a five-year extension that was worth roughly $100 million, according to Doug Ferguson of ABC News. The third deal was agreed to in 2006 for seven years and was followed by the most recent between Nike and Tiger which is double the size of his second.
Tiger Woods’ Current Nike Contract Is Estimated at $200 Million
The 2013 contract extension signed by Woods was agreed to during the final year of his previous deal. There was quite a bit of speculation over just how much money it was worth, and Business Insider is among many who have cited the $200 million total.
After the deal was done, Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg said he was “confident” the golfer would be with Nike for the rest of his career and addressed the contract, per ESPN’s Bob Harig.
“We’re comfortable with where we ended up and the career trajectory that Tiger will be on with Nike,” Steinberg told ESPN.com at Muirfield, where Woods will begin play in the Open Championship on Thursday afternoon. “I’m thrilled we were able to complete this deal.”
Woods echoed a similar sentiment roughly a month prior, telling ESPN that “it was just a matter of time” before the contract would be signed.
Woods’ Dad Called Nike’s First Contract With Tiger ‘Chump Change’
After Woods signed the $100 million deal over five years in 2001, it was apparent that Nike knew the price to keep him on board would be far bigger than his first contract. The jump in pay was $60 million more over the same amount of time, and Tiger’s father, Earl Woods, was brutally honest about how he knew the second negotiations would go, per ABC News.
“The value Nike received on the first contract caused me to come to my conclusion that it would be chump change,” his father, Earl Woods, said of the five-year, $40 million deal that raised eyebrows in 1996.
“And this contract will be chump change compared to the next one, because Tiger is only going to get bigger and better.”
As we’ve seen since that point, Tiger’s father was spot on with his assessment that the contracts were only going to increase in size.
Nike Backed Tiger Woods After Other Sponsors Dropped Him
While Nike’s contracts with Woods have only increased in size over the years, they had a big decision to make in 2009. When the news of Woods’ extramarital affairs came to light, multiple sponsors such as Gatorade, AT&T, and General Motors, among others canceled their contracts, per CNBC’s Lucy Handley.
But Nike chose to stay with Woods and keep their contract. They also did the same when he was charged with driving under the influence after being found asleep behind the wheel of his car in 2017. This decision was even made in the midst of Woods attempting to return after multiple back surgeries and just one top-10 finish from 2014-17.
Woods began reverting back to form in 2018 by finishing No. 2 in the FedExCup Rankings and posting seven top-10 finishes that year.
Nike Welcomed Tiger Back at 2018 Masters With Infamous Ad
While Woods hadn’t competed in the Masters since 2015 due to injuries and the aforementioned back surgeries, he made his return to the infamous major during the 2018 season. And in doing so, Nike created a commercial titled “Welcome Back,” as Darren Rovell of The Action Network previously showed.
The partnership between Woods and Nike remains strong as the years roll on, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. It’s probably a safe bet that if/when his current deal expires, that Woods will remain with the company beyond that point.