Tiger Woods announced Monday he is ending his longtime partnership with Nike, leaving the brand’s future in the fast-growing sport in doubt.
In a post on his social media feed, Woods thanked the ‘iconic brand’ for their 27-year partnership, alongside a photo of himself, his mother and Nike founder Phil Knight.
Nike released a statement confirming the split.
“For over 27 years, we have had the honor to partner with Tiger Woods, one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen,’ it said.
‘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.”
Speculation has been swirling about a breakup for the past month after the “No Laying Up” golf podcast suggested one was imminent. Woods himself demurred in an interview ahead of last month’s PNC Championship. When asked for ‘clarity’ about the relationship, Woods responded: “I’m still wearing their product,’ but declined to say anything further.
The split comes at a pivotal time for Nike. The company’s share price has declined some 40% since November 2021. Nike began distancing itself from golf in 2016 when it announced it would stop making golf equipment but continued to sign major golfers.
In what will now be seen as a prelude to Woods’ announcement, PGA Championship winner Jason Day announced last week he would also be leaving Nike for the relative newcomer in sports apparel, Malbon Golf.
While Woods’ own performance on the green has declined in recent years due to a string of injuries, he remains the sport’s biggest draw. Since signing with Nike as a 20 year old in 1996, he has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from the brand. According to The Oregonian, Woods’ most recent agreement with Nike was signed in 2013 and was worth approximately $200 million.
Woods, 48, is slated to compete in next month’s Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles.