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Tiger Woods Becomes Latest Sports Billionaire: The Only Two Other Athletes To Ever Join The 10-Digit Club

Benzinga logo Benzinga 8/10/2022 Adam Eckert
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Tiger Woods, one of the best golfers the game has ever seen and arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, has joined an exclusive list of sports billionaires. 

What To Know: Forbes has estimated that Woods' net worth has crossed the $1 billion mark, making him one of just three athletes to ever reach billionaire status.

The estimate is based on Woods' lifetime earnings, but despite winning 82 times on the PGA Tour, including 15 major championships, a vast majority of Woods' wealth comes from endorsement deals, most famously with Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE).

Other well known endorsements include Rolex and Gatorade, owned by PepsiCo Inc (NASDAQ: PEP). Woods also signed equipment sponsorships with TaylorMade and Bridgestone Golf following a nearly two-year absence from the tour due to a pair of back surgeries. 

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Woods' other ventures include TGR Design and a restaurant in Jupiter, Florida called "The Woods." The iconic golfer has also grown his net worth through investments in several golf-related startups.

But it's never been about the money for Woods, who has grown the game of golf immensely throughout his career by pulling off nearly-impossible shots and wearing his emotion on his (Sunday red) sleeve on his way to countless dominant performances. Woods' wizard-like touch around the greens was often complemented with fiery celebrations followed by roars heard across the course. 

Just a couple of months back, Woods' turned down a ridiculously-high offer from the LIV Golf tour. CEO Greg Norman reportedly said the offer was a "mind-blowing amount" in the "high nine digits."

Woods' likely turned down an offer that would have nearly doubled his net worth. He spoke about the new golf tour in a press interview ahead of the 150th Open Championship last month. 

"What these players are doing for guaranteed money," Woods said. "What is the incentive to practice? What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You're just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events."

Related Link: Players Leaving PGA Tour For LIV Golf 'Turned Their Back' On Sport, Tiger Woods Says Ahead Of British Open

The 10-Digit Club: Woods has become the first billionaire in his sport, and moreover, the first billionaire athlete outside the game of basketball. The only two other athletes on the list are NBA legend Michael Jordan and current NBA star LeBron James

Jordan, who is often considered the greatest NBA player of all time, currently has a net worth of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes estimates.

Jordan joined sports-betting firm DraftKings Inc (NASDAQ: DKNG) in 2020 as a special advisor to the company’s board.

A majority of his net worth is attributed to his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan purchased the then-Charlotte Bobcats in 2010 for $275 million, according to ESPN. The NBA franchise now has an estimated value of approximately $1.58 billion.

Lakers' superstar James is one of the most popular players in the NBA. Forbes estimates that James has a current net worth right at $1 billion, making him the first active NBA player to reach billionaire status.

James has reportedly earned more than $385 million in pre-tax salary from his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. However, a majority of his wealth has been generated through endorsement deals with some big-name companies including Nike, Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO) and Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT).

It's what these athletes did off the court or course that led them to the rarefied air they relish in today, but their hard work and excellence on the court or inside the ropes is what created the opportunities. The billionaire mark doesn't look like a stopping point for any of the three sports icons. 

Like "Tiger" says, "No matter how good you get, you can always get better."

Photo: Omar Rawlings from Flickr.

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