Shortly after the story broke on Friday afternoon that Tiger Woods was involved in a car accident, media outlets starting contacting me and asking how the situation might effect Tiger's endorsement deals.
The 2009 Sports Illustrated Fortunate 50 List reported that Tiger Woods' total earnings were down about $28 million last year, but for the sixth-consecutive time he topped the list by bringing home an estimated $99,737,626. To put that number in perspective, Phil Mickelson came in a distance second with and estimated $52,950,356, while LeBron James is is reported to have made $42,410,581.
As CNNMoney's David Goldman wrote in an excellent article Monday afternoon, Tiger's sponsors are standing by him, and will likely continue to do so. Here's why: Tiger has not been formally charged with anything. Tabloids and pundits are writing that Woods needs to address the rumors that are swirling around the Internet, but legally, Tiger is not required to speak to anyone.
With that in mind, why should companies like Nike, Accenture, AT&T, Tag Heuer, Gillette, and Gatorade even consider changing, or ending, their relationship with the man who is one of the most iconic figures in sports?
Sure, if the circumstances surrounding Woods's car cash change in the coming days or weeks, companies might reconsider their association with Tiger accordingly. But as Florida
Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said in a statement, "Contrary to various media reports, the Florida Highway Patrol has not
made any comments regarding the details of the ongoing crash
investigation involving Tiger Woods as it relates to medical
information, or any other aspect of this investigation."
So don't look for Fortune 500 companies to start changing their marketing plans simply because Tiger Woods is the target de jour of tabloids.