Why Did Tiger Woods Leave Nike After 27 Years? People Have Theories

Melissa Willets - Author

Jan. 9 2024, Published 1:07 p.m. ET

Tiger Woods hits out of the sand trap on the 15th hole during the final round of the TOUR Championship on Sept. 23, 2018
Source: Getty Images

Iconic brand partnerships with celebrities live in fans' minds forever. Just think Ben Affleck and Dunkin', Cindy Crawford and Pepsi, Jennifer Aniston and SmartWater, and Jennifer Garner and Capital One.

Or how about Michael Jordan and Nike? Or Tiger Woods and Nike. Except after almost three decades, Tiger is leaving Nike.

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Why has the man who is still the biggest name in golf decided to move on from his long-term partnership with the shoe brand famous for the swoosh? While the reasons are murky, here's what people are saying about the end of a business deal era.

Tiger Woods at a Tiger Woods Foundation event
Source: Getty Images
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So, why did Tiger Woods leave Nike after so long?

On Jan. 8, 2024, Tiger announced he would be parting ways with the shoe brand, sharing the shocking news on his Twitter account.

Nike also spoke out about the end of an era, saying in part, “For over 27 years, we have had the honor to partner with Tiger Woods, one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen."

Nike went on to say in its statement about cutting ties to the golfer, "Throughout the course of our partnership, we have witnessed along with the rest of the world, how Tiger not only redefined the sport of golf, but broke barriers for all of sport. We watched him set records, challenge conventional thinking and inspire generations of people around the globe. We are grateful to have been a part of it. We wish him the best in the future.”

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It's clear that neither Tiger nor Nike is spilling any tea over the partnership spoiling, saying only good things about their iconic association.

But it's worth noting that Nike's share price has declined in recent years, and some consumers, including Caitlyn Jenner, have blasted the brand for going "woke."

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Fans think Nike messed up by losing Tiger Woods.

Another reason that Tiger may have left Nike is that the brand no longer makes golf equipment. Although it seems like a natural parting of ways based on that reason alone, fans have basically decided that Nike did Tiger dirty — or at a minimum, shot itself in the foot by losing the star of the sport.

"How Nike didn’t sign Tiger to a lifetime contract is beyond me," one fan declared on Twitter.

As one golf fan wondered, why isn't Tiger up there with LeBron James, who signed a lifetime contract worth $1 billion in 2015?

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It's worth noting that Tiger's relationship with former Nike CEO Phil Knight seemingly went beyond business.

As sports reporter Darren Rovell shared, "When Phil Knight's son Matthew died in a diving accident in 2004, the first Nike athlete to call Knight was Tiger Woods. 'His call came in at 7:30 a.m. I will never, ever forget,' wrote Knight in his memoir, Shoe Dog."

Tiger also personally thanked Phil in his social media announcement about the split, crediting his "passion and vision" for spawning the partnership in the first place.

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