It was one year ago tonight, Thanksgiving Night 2009, that the most famous athlete in the world crashed his car into a tree.What would happened to him — and us — over the next 12 months would captivate the world and forever change the nature of the celebrity athlete. Here’s a retrospective of Business Insider‘s Tiger Woods coverage from the last 12 months.
The news Tiger Woods’ car crash took the world by storm. Everyone wanted to know what happened.
The speculation began immediately. Was Tiger Woods cheating on his wife? Tiger pulled out of his own golf tournament, and we wondered whether the PGA could survive an extended Woods absence should those car crash injuries prove serious.
The silence surrounding Tiger left the public starved for information, and a new Taiwanese video company emerged to feed the masses. Their CGI-engineered recreation of the Tiger drama swept the internet by storm and launched a new kind of journalism.
Finally, we learned the truth. Tiger confessed to the infidelity he had previously paid to keep under wraps. Nevertheless, Gatorade and Nike immediately stuck with the suddenly tarnished golfer. And we thought Tiger was home free. He attempted to prolong that half-truth by offering Elin $60M to stay married.
And then the second shoe dropped. Starting with Rachel Uchitel, his mistresses began coming public by the handful. Suddenly, Gatorade wasn’t so loyal. They dropped Woods, but insisted it had “nothing to do with recent events.” Sure. His endorsement value had plunged. Except among men, who inexplicably approved of Tiger more and more.
Other sponsors began shelving his ads, and Gillette, AT&T, and Accenture joined Gatorade in dumping Tiger altogether. In all, he lost $22M in endorsement opportunities. But Tag Heuer stuck by him – and even featured him on their homepage – and Nike, already certain these transgressions would be a “minor blip,” launched a new Tiger commercial. (Which inspired 160 spoofs.)
All the while, his collection of mistresses grew to rival his collection of major titles. He even turned to a mistress, and not Elin, for comfort the night his father died. Elin fled the country – and put the island of Faglaro on the map – to avoid the limelight. She eventually bought a multi-million dollar home in Sweden and the prospect of divorce became increasingly likely. Tiger, on the other hand, escaped to a luxurious, $5k-per-week sex addiction rehab.
A retired sportswriter published what many thought to be the real story of what happened the night of the crash, but the urban legend left us all more confused. In fact, so many stories surfaced, if you weren’t claiming Tiger was gay, no one cared anymore.
Finally, December turned to January, and Tiger’s stock was on the rise again. To the New York Post‘s delight, he was released from rehab and Spike green-lit a Woods-inspired TV show. His first public appearance (where he confirmed that Elin never hit him) captivated the media, and even Wall Street traders, who stopped trading to watch. Woods also hired former presidential flack Ari Fleischer to manage his image. Best of all, he said he would finally return to golf at the 2010 Masters.
But the world still wanted to know what really happened that fateful Thanksgiving night. And we finally found out. Unfortunately, we also found out the gory details of his sexts and the details of their recipients. One even wrote an entire book about her sex with the golfing great.
As the Masters neared, Woods’ golf game returned to the forefront. Tiger actually hit the fairway and ESPN’s ratings skyrocketed, so did his remaining sponsors’ stock. But Woods only resembled the sore loser he was known to be, not the unstoppable golfer. Now that Tiger “sucked,” networks lost ratings and our own Henry Blodget lost interest. Tiger’s crash back to earth ruined golf, and in November golf dropped him to No. 2 for the first time since early 2005. He finished the year without winning a single tournament.
Like his game, his marriage went down in flames. Elin was awarded $100M and the pair officially divorced. Sure, Tiger may have tried to win her back, but she sold $2.5M worth of jewelry to prove she had no interest in her ex. A man was paid to fake a Tiger sex tape, while Woods tried to move on from Elin.
Ironically, as we reach the one-year anniversary of Tiger’s crash, he’s suddenly craving the attention of the public he worked so hard to avoid for so long. He started tweeting and opened himself to interviews. Does anyone still care?
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