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Tiger Woods’ ‘unique’ first Nike deal ‘raised the bar’ for entire golf world, his former agent Hughes Norton tells Ny Breaking, as he lifts the lid on negotiations with sportswear giant in new tell-all book, ‘Rainmaker’

Tiger Woods signed one of the most unique sponsorship deals in sports when he closed the deal that created a 27-year, $500 million partnership with Nike, says his former agent Hughes Norton.

Woods, 48, confirmed in January that his iconic partnership with the sportswear giant had ended after 27 years.

The 15-time major winner started wearing the Swoosh when he was just 20, with the brand supplying the golf legend with his famous Sunday red looks and gifting fans with legendary commercials.

And it was Norton, the super agent who represented Woods, along with some of the game’s biggest names, including Greg Norman, who was the architect of golf’s most infamous partnership.

In his new comprehensive book Rainmaker: Superagent Hughes Norton and the money-grabbing explosion of golf from Tiger to LIV and beyond‘, written in collaboration with former Golf magazine editor George Peper, Norton reveals the behind-the-scenes details of the deal’s closing.

Tiger Woods started wearing Nike when he signed a $40 million deal with the brand in 1996

oods, 48, confirmed in January that his partnership with the sportswear giant had come to an end

He wore the iconic Swoosh for 27 years

Woods, 48, confirmed in January that his partnership with the sportswear giant had come to an end

Hughes Norton, Woods' agent at the time, lifts the lid on the negotiations in his book

Hughes Norton, Woods’ agent at the time, lifts the lid on the negotiations in his book “Rainmaker,” which hit shelves on March 26.

Norton, who first met Woods when he was just 13 and stood by his side during his first-ever major win at The Masters in 1997, reveals in ‘Rainmaker’ that when he began laying the foundation for the golfer’s career, several millions of dollars he decided to put all his ‘eggs in two baskets’: Nike and Titleist.

Norton pitched Woods to Nike’s then-sports marketing director Steve Miller as a generational talent, hedging his bets and declaring that an offer of about $50 million over five years would be enough to let Woods steer the course with the Swoosh on his cap. .

Recalling the negotiations in “Rainmaker,” which hit shelves in the United States on March 26, Norton explains that Miller initially objected to this figure.

But it clearly wasn’t much of a deterrent, because Nike’s boss came back with a compromise every agent had dreamed of settling: $40 million – $8 million a year – over five years.

And the icing on the cake? It was all guaranteed before Woods had even stepped onto the tee as a professional. So did the $20 million deal he made with Titleist.

Even if he missed every cut or lost his Tour card, Woods was set for life before he was 21 years old.

Norton says Mailsport that it was one of the biggest successes of his two-and-a-half-decade career at IMG.

“It was so unique that someone who had never hit a golf ball as a professional before stepping on the first tee was guaranteed $60 million,” he says.

“By that I mean that even if he had, he would have missed any cut for the rest of his career, at least the first five years when the money was guaranteed in the bank.

Norton was golf's super agent, representing both Woods and Greg Norman

Norton was golf’s super agent, representing both Woods and Greg Norman

The 15-time major winner launched his own clothing line, Sun Day Red, earlier this year

The 15-time major winner launched his own clothing line, Sun Day Red, earlier this year

Hughes was alongside Woods at Augusta National when he won his first major at the 1997 Masters

Hughes was alongside Woods at Augusta National when he won his first major at the 1997 Masters

“There was no recourse, there was no recovery of these revenues by Nike or Titleist. He was set up. That’s so unusual, and the amounts were so unusual that you don’t want to pat yourself on the back and I always try not to, but you think, ‘Wow, this is a dream come true. I’m going to have this generational talent for the next ten years, maybe a little longer. You’re so looking forward to it.”

Norton emphasizes in ‘Rainmaker’ that the figures were four times what then world number 1 Norman earned on golf clubs and balls, and double what the Australian earned on shoes and clothes in his pocket.

“That’s no big deal, right?” was the young Woods’ response, Norton writes.

It not only destroyed Norman’s earnings at the time, but also paved the way for Woods’ generational wealth.

Despite Norton being fired by an “emotionless” Woods just two years into those contracts, the golf icon is estimated to have earned around $500 million in the 27 years he spent as the face of the brand he joined at the age of 20. became a professional. until he split up early this year and launched his own clothing line ‘Sun Day Red’.

But the groundbreaking partnership didn’t just impact Woods’ career. Hughes insists that as a result, the value of golfers around the world has risen, even if they never reached Woods’ dizzying heights.

“Five minutes after it came out, every other management agency in golf was saying to themselves, ‘We’ve been underpricing our guys for too many years.’ It raised the bar,” Norton said.

“Not that anyone else would get the numbers that Tiger achieved because of everything that led to that in his fantastic amateur career. But it certainly raised the bar.

Woods will be wearing his infamous Sunday Red, while son Charlie will also be wearing Nike at the 2019 Masters

Woods will be wearing his infamous Sunday Red, while son Charlie will also be wearing Nike at the 2019 Masters

‘I can’t quantify it exactly. But our players certainly expected more, as many of our players had had distinguished careers up to that point. It gave a new perspective on things.

“Was Hughes Norton an agent of change who single-handedly added extra zeros to the end of everyone’s paycheck and golf? No. But it certainly paved the way for much bigger endorsement deals as the stars emerged.”

And that almost didn’t happen. Not if Phil Knight gets his way.

In “Rainmaker,” Norton claims that Knight, former CEO of Nike, tried to cut IMG out of the deal at the last hour, going behind their backs and straight to Woods’ father, Earl.

But Norton insists that Earl showed unwavering loyalty and refused Knight’s advances.

Rainmaker: Superagent Hughes Norton and the money-grabbing explosion of golf from Tiger to LIV and beyond will be available everywhere in the US on March 26.