But his sponsors get more. Woods and Steinberg see his sponsorship deals as business relationships. Joint ventures, where Woods isn't a pitchman so much as a full-fledged partner. The companies that pay top dollar to hire him get more than just his name. They get his ideas and his intelligence. They get his energy. They get his loyalty. They get his will to win, at everything and at all costs. They get his image, carefully crafted and groomed by Steinberg and Woods, with a little help from fellow superstar Michael Jordan. And, perhaps most importantly, they get his time. When you're dealing with one of the most sought-after athletes on the planet, getting his time is no small thing.
It's About Relationships
Few have seen Woods' progression as a businessman from as close a vantage point as the people he works with at Nike. Nike first signed Woods in 1996, recently extended his deal for five years to the tune of $100 million, and in May christened a new conference facility on its corporate campus the Tiger Woods Conference Center. Now that's a long-term relationship.
Ever since the early days, Woods was most interested in the golf products Nike was developing, says Mike Kelly, director of marketing for Nike Golf. But the more experience he has in the business, the more his horizons broaden. He pays a lot of attention these days to fashion beyond just sportswear, in part because both he and the company see a market there, but also because his personal tastes have changed since he signed his first Nike deal. "He was a kid in T-shirts and jeans when he came out of college," Kelly says. "Now he wears Armani suits."