Tiger Woods is having quite a year in 2019 — and it’s far from over. He scored an amazing career comeback with a win at the Masters, and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom a few weeks later.
Tiger Woods won his first Masters in 1997 at the age of 21, and he had his top money-making year a decade ago, with earnings estimated at around $115 million per year. But it’s arguable that Tiger Woods has never had more attention paid to him than right now — long after he burst onto the scene as a superstar prodigy, and years after his golf career seemed to have fizzled in the wake of injuries and a notorious cheating scandal.
What may seem surprising, given all that has already taken place and been chronicled in his career and private life, is that Tiger Woods is only 43 years old. That’s not even that old for professional golf, a sport that’s seen many players win major tournaments in their late 40s and early 50s.
Since he turned pro in 1996 at age 20, Tiger Woods has won 81 PGA Tour victories. His total career earnings are estimated at a staggering $1.5 billion, and Tiger Woods’ net worth is currently about $800 million.
All of those figures are only bound to grow. Here’s more about what we know about Tiger Woods’ money and career.
Tiger Woods’ Career — and How He Makes Money
Long before he began making millions as a professional golfer, Tiger Woods was a child prodigy. In 1981, a 5-year-old Eldrick “Tiger” Woods appeared on “The Today Show” and chatted shyly with Bryant Gumbel in between clips of his amazingly advanced skills on the golf course.
As a college golfer at Stanford, Tiger Woods was a two-time All-American, and NCAA champion in 1996. Woods went pro after two years in college. At the age of 20 he signed a $40 million contract with Nike and began winning tournaments, including a 12-stroke victory at the Masters in 1997, when he became the youngest Masters champion ever, as well as the first African-American to win the tournament.
That same year, Esquire published a Tiger Woods profile that made some waves because it catalogued a few off-color jokes the 21-year-old Woods told while flirting with some young women. Woods also weighed in at the time with a few thoughts about money — and why tournament win earnings were so important to him.
“You know, the prize money, that’s the paycheck. That’s the money I earned for myself,” Tiger Woods said. “All the other stuff, my Nike contract and Titleist and now the All Star Cafe, to me, that’s a bank account, but it doesn’t really make me as happy as what I earn through blood, sweat and tears on the golf course. That money, I have the sole responsibility for earning that. Just me, alone. All the other stuff can depend on how good your agent is.”
If that’s true, Tiger Woods appears to have had a very good agent. He regularly made far more money from endorsement deals than he did with wins on the golf course. A Golf Digest report published in early 2014 estimated that 88% of what Tiger Woods made as a pro golfer — a total of $1.3 billion at that point — came from sponsorships. In 2013, for example, Tiger Woods made $71 million from endorsement deals, compared to $12 million on the golf course, the report said. In 2018, Forbes ranked Tiger Woods as the world’s 16th highest-paid athlete, with $42 million out of his $43.3 million total earnings coming from endorsements.
Tiger Woods’ career earnings total is now up to around $1.5 billion.
In addition to his usual stream of revenues, Tiger Woods owns a restaurant called The Woods, in Jupiter, Florida. The establishment gained some notoriety in May after the family of a former employee filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Woods and the manager. The restaurant allegedly overserved the employee, who had a history of alcohol abuse and died in a car crash after leaving late one night.
The lion’s share of Tiger Woods’ money comes from endorsement contracts with brands like Nike, TaylorMade, Monster Energy, and Bridgestone Golf — all of which are his current partners. For years, Woods also made millions from brands like AT&T, Gatorade, and Gillette, which ended their business relationships with Tiger Woods around the time he was exposed for cheating on his wife in 2009.
Tiger Woods Cheating Scandal, Divorce, and DUI
Tiger Woods was the highest-paid athlete in the world for about a decade straight starting in 2001, and he made somewhere between $115 million and $120 million annually in 2008 and 2009. It was toward the end of this peak-earning period that Tiger Woods became engulfed in scandal.
Up until the Tiger Woods cheating scandal broke, the golf star “was basically thought of as a god by fans while sports media couldn’t slobber over him enough,” Sports Illustrated writer Jimmy Traina summed up. “He had the PERFECT image at the time. But then it all came crashing down in truly spectacular fashion.”
On Thanksgiving night 2009, Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant outside his home inside the gated community of Isleworth, near Windermere, Florida. As the tabloids reported, the car crash occurred after Elin Nordegren — Woods’ wife, a model he married in 2004 and had two children with — caught him cheating and chased him out of the house while swinging a golf club.
Nordegren reportedly first discovered that her husband was cheating on her with a woman named Rachel Uchitel, but it soon became apparent that Tiger Woods had been having affairs with several mistresses.
After reportedly seeking therapy for sex addiction and staying out of the public eye for a few weeks, Woods appeared in February 2010 to issue a public apology. “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated,” Woods said. “What I did was not acceptable.”
Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren divorced in 2010, and though the initial reports indicated that the settlement would be for a whopping $750 million, it was later revealed Woods would be paying his ex-wife “only” $100 million. Elin Nordegren had bought a $2.2 million house in Sweden in late 2009 that she kept in the divorce, and she also received custody of their two children.
Tiger Woods’ career took a nosedive after the cheating scandal and his divorce. He lost sponsors, was hampered by several injuries, and was arrested for DUI in 2017. He did not win another major tournament until triumphing at the Masters in 2019.
Tiger Woods’ Homes, Cars, Yacht, and Private Jet
Tiger Woods’ infamous Thanksgiving 2009 night car crash happened just outside his $2.4 million mansion inside the Isleworth community in Florida.
At the time, Woods also owned a 10-acre oceanfront estate in Jupiter, Florida, which he bought for $40 million in 2006, as well as a parcel of land on a golf course in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, worth upwards of $4 million. After the divorce, Woods took out a $54 million mortgage to build his dream home on the property in Jupiter Island — a mega-mansion with a four-green golf course and 60-foot diving pool.
Tiger Woods owns a yacht and private jet as well. The jet is a Gulfstream G550 worth $54 million. The yacht, a 155-footer named Privacy, was purchased by Woods in 2004 for $20 million. Woods has stayed on Privacy when competing in previous U.S. Opens, and the boat was docked near the tournament’s Long Island setting again in May 2019, at a marina in Oyster Bay.
Besides golf, one of Tiger Woods’ passions is diving. When Woods won the 2019 Masters he was wearing a very special diving watch — a Rolex DeepSea D-Blue. Tiger Woods has been sponsored by Rolex for years, so he probably didn’t have to pay for the fancy watch — which is listed for $15,225 on Amazon.