Reaction from some of Tiger Woods’ largest endorsement partners is trickling out. After the Jaimee Grubbs voicemail recording of Woods was released by USMagazine.com and Woods’ released a statement on his website, CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell was the first to get reax from Nike and Gatorade.
New Gatorade statement: “Tiger and his family have our support as they work through this private matter. Our partnership continues.”
New Nike statement: “Nike supports Tiger and his family. Our relationship remains unchanged.”
Rovell, who is the world’s top sports business reporter, talked to me on the record about Woods’ endorsement situation in the wake of the past week’s events.
In the case of Nike, Rovell noted the remarkable show of support Woods was getting, observing that when the Kobe Bryant-Colorado situation first hit, “it was all quiet in western Oregon (Nike HQ). … All I know is Nike has issued three statements in support of Tiger and I’ve never seen anything like that.”
One of the reasons for Nike’s support is Woods’ profound impact on Nike golf’s bottom line. With Woods, Nike golf yearly revenue reaches $800M annually. Without Woods, Rovell said Nike sales would likely fall to less than half that.
Gatorade has also put out two statements now in support of Woods, but AT&T has yet to comment. Rovell said of AT&T’s silence: “They’re trying to get their hands on the situation. You can’t read into that they’re not supporting Tiger. It’s early.”
Yes, it is early and perhaps that’s the problem. With outlets like RadarOnline.com reporting that “several women” may come forward about affairs with Woods, with at least one of those individuals also armed with voicemails, you wonder if sponsor support will eventually wane.
Rovell said he didn’t know if Woods or his representatives had made any assurances to his corporate partners about what more, if anything, will surface about his personal life. But Rovell also asked, “at what point does this all become noise?”
From Woods’ personal perspective, it probably already is noise. But if you’re investing millions in an association with Woods that is largely based on image, I’m not so sure that you can take many more tales of his extramarital affairs.