Tiger close to $100 million Nike deal

Thursday, September 14th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Fresh off his record-breaking summer of golf, Tiger Woods is on the verge of signing a $100 million endorsement contract with Nike believed to be the richest in sports, The Associated Press has learned.

Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG, declined to discuss specifics of the deal on Thursday, only to say it was an ``outstanding contract.''

``We are within days of a signature,'' he said.

``It compensates Tiger not just for what he's done with Nike, but what he has done for golf and sports.''

Woods' previous contract with Nike was said to be $40 million over five years. He was used heavily in their advertisements and established his own line of clothing and shoes.

A source close to the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, described it as the ``largest contract in sports marketing history,'' worth about $100 million over five years.

``There are so many different revenue streams,'' the source said. ``It's impossible to calculate what the end result will be.''

Nike Golf president Bob Wood described the contract as ``pretty creative.''

''``It's not often you get a chance to work with somebody who's the best in the world at what they do,'' he said. ``Working with and being associated with Tiger Woods has created an incredible amount of positive energy about Nike Golf and Nike.''

While Wood also declined to discuss contract details, he did say the amount was partly tied to sales.

Woods has represented Nike since turning professional in 1996. In just four years, he has won all four major championships, becoming, at 24, the youngest player to do so. He set the scoring record in each of them, and he has attracted a record number of TV viewers just about every week.

With three tournaments still to play, his nine victories this year are the most in one PGA Tour season since 1950, and he is on pace to shattered the all-time season scoring average set by Byron Nelson in 1945.

In June, he gave Nike a huge lift when he switched to the Nike Tour Accuracy ball. He went on to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes, the largest winning margin in the 140-year history of major championship golf.

Woods also became the first player to finish a U.S. Open in double digits below par, a 12-under 272. A month later, he won the British Open at St. Andrews with a 19-under 269 _ another major championship record.

Last month, he became the first player in the stroke-play era of the PGA Championship to win back-to-back titles, outlasting Bob May in a three-hole playoff.

The Nike Golf president said its market share for balls has increased from about 1 percent in April to nearly 4 percent.

The switch to the Nike ball did not have a major impact on contract negotiations, Wood said. Nike also is considering a move toward golf clubs.

``If Nike Golf comes out with equipment, we definitely will be looking at one person,'' he said.

Woods devotes a substantial amount of time to Nike, and the Beaverton, Ore., company has used him effectively in their TV ads.

Perhaps the most famous was not even planned. During a break from a commercial of Woods hitting balls with dozens of hackers on a range, he began bouncing a ball on his wedge _ behind his back, between his legs _ before whacking it in midair.

Such images, along with the spectacular shots he produces just about every week, has enabled Woods to transcend his sport like few others. His father, Earl Woods, said last week that Woods would do more for Nike than Michael Jordan ever did.

``He represents Nike Corp., the whole brand name,'' the father said. ``That will increase more and more as he gets a little older.''

Wood, the Nike Golf president, said that was ``definitely possible.''

``His professional longevity is greater than Michael's,'' Wood said. ``Basketball players have a 15-year career if they're fortunate. Tiger has 24 more majors to play, just in the time period he is under contract with us. He has 104 majors left until he gets to the Senior Tour.''

Earlier this year, Woods signed an endorsement deal with Buick worth $30 million over five years and carries its logo on his bag. In all, Woods has endorsement contracts with 11 companies.

Earl Woods told Golfweek magazine in February that his son's net worth had reached more than $150 million. After his U.S. Open victory in June, several financial analysts said Woods could become sports' first $1 billion man.

``He's 24. That's the key to this,'' Steinberg said. ``He's limitless. He's a transcendent athlete, finally being recognized as the greatest athlete on the planet.''