Tiger Woods joins athlete billionaire club, Forbes says

Less than 10% of the 15-times major champion's career earnings and net worth come from golf winnings

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Golfer Tiger Woods has joined basketball superstars Michael Jordan and LeBron James in a group of athletes with a net worth of $1 billion, according to business magazine Forbes.

He is one of two active athletes to achieve billionaire status along with four-times NBA champion and Los Angeles Lakers player James.

Jordan, a six-times NBA champion, did not become a billionaire until after he retired, thanks to a “well-timed investment in NBA's Charlotte Hornets”, the magazine said on Friday.

“Twenty-seven years, 15 majors and five back surgeries after turning pro, the world’s most popular golfer is now the newest member of the three comma club,” Forbes said of Woods on Friday.

“Triumph, injury, scandal, failure and triumph again have filled the years since Tiger Woods first walked the fairways at the 1997 Masters. But through it all, the 46-year-old Woods has maintained his supremacy as one of the top-earning athletes in the world.”

Woods has made more than $1.7bn in prize money, endorsements and other income over the course of 27 years, according to Forbes.

The winner of 15 major championships returned to competition at the Masters in April, 14 months after injuring his right leg in a car crash. The car crash in February 2021 put him in hospital for three weeks and confined to a hospital-type bed at home for three months.

Woods, 46, has achieved billionaire status despite not being involved in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series. The American star turned down a “mind-blowingly enormous” offer in high nine digits for the series opener in London, LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman told the Washington Post.

Less than 10 per cent of Woods' career earnings and net worth come from golf winnings, Forbes said. Instead, he amassed his fortunes through enormous endorsement deals with brands such as Nike and Rolex.

He also has a large real estate portfolio, including in Florida, according to the magazine.

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Woods has more than 10 million followers across Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. At his peak, he was the most prolific athlete endorser in history, earning more than $100 million a year off the course, it said.

He held the number one spot in Forbes' highest-paid athlete list for 10 consecutive years, ending in 2012.

“Despite never teeing the ball up in the past 12 months while recovering from a car accident, Woods collected $68m in off-course income, enough to make him the 14th highest-paid athlete in the world,” Forbes said.

Woods has used his status and earnings to expand his business, which now includes a golf design business, a live events production company and a restaurant.

“When combined with his real estate holding, Woods' wealth is secured, whether or not he ever swings a golf club again,” Forbes said.

Updated: June 11, 2022, 7:28 AM