Tiger Woods during the pro-am preview for the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in Nassau on November 29, 2023.
David Cannon | Getty Images
Tiger Woods’ 27-year partnership with Nike it has come to an end. The superstar golfer announced the news in a statement on the social media platform on Monday
“Phil Knight’s passion and vision brought this Nike and Nike Golf partnership together and I want to personally thank him, along with the Nike staff and the amazing athletes I’ve had the pleasure of working with.” Woods wrote.
Mark Steinberg, Woods’ longtime agent, told CNBC that the golfer made a business decision not to renew his contract with Nike.
The announcement came after months of speculation that the two would split. Nike confirmed the news on Instagram with a picture of Woods in his iconic red polo, saying: “It was a hell of a run.”
In a statement, the company said: “For more than 27 years, we have had the honor of partnering with Tiger Woods, one of the greatest sportsmen the world has ever seen. Throughout our partnership, we have witnessed, along with the rest of the world, how Tiger not only redefined golf, but broke barriers for all of sport. We’ve watched him set records, challenge conventional thinking and inspire generations of people around the world. We’re grateful to have been a part of it. We wish him all the best for the future.”
There’s no word yet on Woods’ plans for a future endorsement deal, but he said on social media: “There will definitely be a next chapter.”
Some recent speculation about Woods’ next chapter has pointed to On Running, the Swiss brand that tennis great Roger Federer joined in 2019 after leaving Nike.
Marc Maurer, co-CEO of On Running, addressed the speculation Monday at the ICR conference in Orlando. “We’ve also heard rumours, so it’s always interesting what’s going on there. We’re hoping Tiger finds a great new partner and it’s not us,” he said.
Golf club and equipment maker TaylorMade, which Woods, 48, has used since 2017 could be another potential landing spot for the 15-time major winner. But on Monday, TaylorMade said their relationship was for equipment only and had no further comment on the matter.
Analysts do not expect much effect from the news, as rumors of Woods’ departure have been circulating for months.
“We continue to believe the company has the support of some of the world’s greatest athletes and would expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Brian Yarbrough, Nike analyst for Edward Jones.
For years, Nike quietly retreated from golf because it wasn’t a big earner for the brand. In 2016, an Oregon sportswear manufacturer announced it would stop making golf equipment altogether.
Still, Woods brought significant exposure to the Nike brand. Over the course of his career, Woods earned $500 million thanks to the “swoosh.”
Eric Smallwood, founder of Apex Marketing, estimates that if Woods makes it through four rounds, he will give Nike $2 million to $4 million in exposure.
Similarly, when Woods traded his Nikes for FootJoy shoes at the 2023 Masters, he donated $3.2 million to the brand.
Woods gives Nike even more exposure than even LeBron James because of the pace of golf compared to basketball, Smallwood said. “Golfers have a longer lifespan,” he said.
— CNBC Gabrielle Fonrouge contributed to this report.
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