Tiger Woods becomes sport’s first billionaire

Golfer passed the billion dollar mark after winning the FedEx Cup this year

Tiger Woods

How did a golfer ever get so rich? According to Forbes, Tiger Woods has become the first person to make a billion dollars out of a career in sport. The magazine has calculated Woods's earnings since he turned professional in 1996, and worked out that, after he earned $10m for winning the FedEx Cup this year, the combined tally of prize money, appearance fees, endorsements, and earnings from his flourishing golf design business has now surpassed the billion dollar barrier. Woods, who is still only 33 and could conceivably keep playing at the top level for the next 15 years, has won 14 Major titles, and is able to charge up to $3m for playing tournaments in the Middle East. Sharply-dressed, well-behaved and, if a little private, a marketing man's dream, he's signed numerous lucrative endorsement deals. Since the "I'm Tiger Woods" advertising campaign, his profile has allowed Nike, which was starting from scratch, to turn into a major name in the golf equipment and clothing industry. Woods has a drink named after him – 'Gatorade Tiger', and helped to design a special watch for Tag Heuer, which is able to resist the sort of shock you get from a golf swing gone wrong. He also has deals with the management consultants Accenture, Electronic Arts video games and, along with Roger Federer and Thierry Henry, Gillette razors. Also, by linking up with property deals, he can charge an awful lot for the courses that his company – Tiger Woods Design – is making in Dubai, North Carolina and Mexico. The only two other sportsmen to have made anywhere near as much money as Woods are Michael Jordan and Michael Schumacher. Despite his retirement, the basketball player still commands $45million a year, much of it from his work endorsing Nike, and Forbes estimates that he’s earned around $800 million since he first started out in the NBA in 1984. As for Schumacher, the German F1 driver who briefly threatened an astonishing comeback this season, he has made something like $700m over his career, and once earned $80m a season at a time when he was winning the F1 Driver's Championship for fun.

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is a London-based journalist. He has previously worked at News Review, a weekly in Santiago, and taught literature and history in Argentina.