In a move that came as a surprise to no one, AT&T (T) quietly ended its sponsorship of Tiger Woods -- making it one of the biggest companies to drop the embattled golf pro. The telecom, whose logo appears on Woods' golf bag, did not give a reason for its decision. However, does it really even need to provide one?Woods' self-destruction as an American icon since his bizarre accident over the Thanksgiving holiday has been remarkable to behold. One wonders how he kept all of his mistresses straight. Figuring out what makes one woman tick is hard enough. Remembering the quirks of 14 "lady friends" must have been close to impossible. %%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%%
With this latest announcement, it's clear that the days of Tiger earning big bucks as a corporate shill are over. Though Woods denied a report in Forbes magazine that he was a billionaire, he's no doubt one of the wealthiest men in sports, thanks to all of his endorsements.
Already in the Works?
Now, the source of those riches is starting to dry up. Accenture (ACN) and Procter & Gamble's (PG) Gillette have already either dropped the golfer or scaled back on the use of his image. Gatorade recently discontinued its "Tiger Focus" drink -- a move the company says was already in the works before news of the scandal broke.
It's odd that it took AT&T, which says on its website "We operate with unyielding integrity, obeying all laws and adhering to a stringent code of business conduct," so long to reach the same conclusion. And it's pretty clear the company was trying to do so quietly by announcing that decision at the start of a long holiday weekend.
"We are ending our sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods and wish him well in the future," the company said in a statement. "We will continue to sponsor the AT&T National. We look forward to a successful 2010 tournament. "
As for Tiger, the best he can hope for is to get a job as a spokesman for more suitable brand or product, perhaps Pfizer's (PFE) Viagra or Hooter's, where waitresses are known to posses "qualities" Woods seems to admire. At the very least, he may be able to command high fees for judging wet t-shirt contests.
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