Tiger Woods' Sponsors Stay Loyal to Golf Champ

Woods still will rake in tens of millions through big endorsement deals.

ByABC News
December 2, 2009, 1:31 PM

Dec. 2, 2009 — -- Tiger Woods' reputation as a squeaky-clean model athlete may be on the rocks, but it looks as if his ability to rake in tens of millions of dollars a year through endorsement deals will remain intact.

Four of Woods' sponsors -- Nike, Gatorade, Gillette and Electronic Arts -- tell ABC News that they will continue their relationship with Woods.

Nike and Gatorade issued statements today in support of Woods and his family. To experts and Woods watchers, the news isn't unexpected.

"He's always going to be Tiger Woods," said Boyce Watkins, a finance professor at Syracuse University. "He may have a tarnished legacy ... [but] there' s absolutely no way you can take away the fact that Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the history of all mankind."

In the wake last week's mysterious car crash and rumors that Woods engaged in extramarital affairs, the golf champ issued a statement today apologizing for "transgressions" and for not being "true to my values and the behavior my family deserves."

Woods' unparalleled golf success and his once-impeccable reputation as a solid family man propelled him to the top of many corporations' wish lists as a star endorser. He has earned more than $100 million annually and, according to Forbes magazine, more than $1 billion during his career thus far, thanks partly to endorsement deals with companies such as Nike, Gatorade, Electronic Arts, TAG Heuer, Accenture and Gillette. Previous Woods endorsement deals included ones with Buick, General Mills and Titleist.

Woods' suspected affairs won't endanger his existing endorsement contracts, experts say, for a number of reasons. For one thing, Woods' domination of professional golf -- he has won 93 tournaments, 71 of them on the PGA Tour -- means he's still an attractive spokesman for brands seeking to align themselves with top performance.

"I think if Tiger returns to the course and continues to dominate the sport, I think a lot of the stain of this past week will wear away," said Forbes associate editor Kurt Badenhausen.