Nike Chairman Calls Tiger Woods' Extramarital Affairs "a Minor Blip"

Celebrity News Dec. 15, 2009 AT 12:34PM
Nike Chairman Calls Tiger Woods' Extramarital Affairs "a Minor Blip" Credit: AP Photo/David Zentz; Lorenzo Ciniglio/Polaris; Flynet

Nike chairman and co-founder Phil Knight says Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs won't hurt his career in the long run.

In an interview with Tripp Mickle of the Sports Business Journal, Knight admits that companies run a risk in building brands around athletes like Woods, 33, who admitted for the first time Dec. 11 to cheating on his wife.

"There’s always a risk." Knight says. "One of the things we always try to do when we have a big endorsement is check out the character and the pattern of the individual. But you’re not going to get it right all the time, and if you’re going to be in the business you have to recognize that."

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Woods, 33, was "obviously ... one we checked out and he came out clean, and I think he's been really great," Knight says. "When his career is over, you'll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now."

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Though Nike continues to stand by the beleaguered golfer, polls show that Woods' public approval rating continues to slip.

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post survey, 42 percent of respondents (fielded Dec. 10-13) said they have a favorable opinion of Woods, including 22 percent "strongly" favorable. Roughly 43 percent said they have an unfavorable view of him, 26 percent "strongly" so.

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Consulting company Accenture announced over the weekend it is ending its six-year relationship with the golfer, who made an estimated $110 million a year in endorsements.

"We are disappointed but respect their decision. That is all I have to say to you," Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told the Wall Street Journal.

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Gillette said it plans to suspend advertising featuring Woods, while AT&T and Tag Heuer are reconsidering their deals with the athlete.

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