Tiger Woods transgression: Can he recover his pitchman status?
After Tiger's "transgression," his economic rebound will depend on whether he follows Kobe Bryant — or Barry Bonds.
Tiger Woods' simple statement Wednesday began: "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."Skip to next paragraph
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While Woods and his wife, Elin Nordegren Woods, have been through a whirlwind few days since the golf megastar's car crash early Saturday morning, Woods's pocketbook is in for leaner times, too.
That's because when pro athletes get caught in any sort of imbroglio, their power as pitchmen plummets. Just ask Kobe.
After illicit contact with a woman other than his wife in Eagle, Colo. in 2003, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant got dropped by McDonald's, Nutella, and Spalding, among others. Michael Vick went from the NFL's highest-paid player to national outcast after his involvement in a Virginia dog-fighting ring was disclosed in 2007. And homerun king Barry Bonds went from videogame covers to hardball pariah after allegations of his steroid use came to a head during the mid-2000s.
Woods has eclipsed them all. Forbes recently dubbed him America's first billionaire athlete in 14 years as a pro. By comparison, basketball superstar Michael Jordan has earned $800 million since he came on to the professional scene in 1984, playing over a decade more than Woods has. Woods' is estimated to make $100 million a year away from the golf course. Nike and Gatorade have already said they will stand by the golfer.
Most fallen pros take one of the three routes. As Woods looks to chart his future, he could learn something from each of them.
Going, going ... gone: Barry Bonds
When Barry Bonds slugged 73 home runs in 2001, fans and players agreed: He was larger than life. The problem, as it turned out, was that his mythic proportions might be pharmacologically problematic. When allegations about the San Francisco Giants' outfielder's steroid abuse went white-hot even as Bonds was crushing Mark McGwire's home-run total, Bonds was finished as a corporate pitchman and is currently out of the sport.