Tiger Woods during the pro-am as a preview for the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in Nassau on Nov. 29, 2023.
David Cannon | Getty Images
Tiger Woods’ 27-year partnership with Nike has come to an end. The superstar golfer announced the news in a statement Monday on social media platform X.
“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 employees and incredible athletes I have had the pleasure of working with along the way,” Woods wrote.
Mark Steinberg, Woods’ longtime agent, told CNBC that the golfer made a business decision to not renew with Nike.
The announcement came after months of speculation that the two would break up. 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 over 27 years, we have had the honor to partner with Tiger Woods, one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. Throughout the course of our partnership, we have witnessed along with the rest of the world, how Tiger not only redefined the sport of golf, but broke barriers for all of sport. We watched him set records, challenge conventional thinking and inspire generations of people around the globe. We are grateful to have been a part of it. We wish him the best in the future.”
There’s no word yet on Woods’ plans for a future endorsement deal, but he said on social media, “There will certainly be another chapter.”
Some recent speculation about Woods’ next chapter have pointed to On Running, the Swiss brand that tennis great Roger Federer joined in 2019 after he left Nike.
Marc Maurer, co-CEO of On Running, addressed the speculation Monday at the ICR Conference in Orlando. “We also heard the rumors, so it’s always interesting what’s out there. We hope that Tiger finds a great new partner and it’s not going to be 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. On Monday, though, TaylorMade said their relationship is for equipment only and has no additional comment on the matter.
Analysts aren’t expecting a big effect with the news as the rumors have been circulating about Woods’ departure for months.
“We continue to believe the company has endorsements with some of the biggest name athletes in the world and we would expect that trend to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Brian Yarbrough, a Nike analyst for Edward Jones.
Nike has been quietly ramping down on golf for years as it wasn’t a huge money maker for the brand. In 2016, the Oregon sports apparel maker announced it would stop making golf equipment altogether.
Yet, Woods brought significant exposure to the Nike brand. Over the course of his career, Woods made a reported $500 million from “the swoosh.”
Eric Smallwood, founder of Apex Marketing, estimates that when Woods goes four rounds, he’s providing Nike with $2 million to $4 million of exposure.
Likewise, when Woods swapped his Nikes for FootJoy shoes at the 2023 Masters, he gave the brand $3.2 million of exposure.
Woods provides even more exposure for Nike than even LeBron James due to the pace of play of golf compared to basketball, Smallwood said. “Golfers have longer longevity,” he said.
— CNBC’s Gabrielle Fonrouge contributed to this report.
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