One billion dollars. $1,000,000,000. Can you say, “Tiger, Tiger Woods, y’all?”
That’s a lot of zeros for a guy who gets paid to play a game for a living. Heck, that’s a lot of zeros for a guy who gets paid to do anything for a living! According to Forbes Magazine, Tiger Woods became the first professional athlete to pass one billion dollars in career earnings, after winning the Fed Ex Cup this year.
What’s even crazier: the man is just 33 years old, which means he still has 17 years until he is even eligible for the Champions tour (where the old guys play). Most people expect Woods to have a solid ten more years before he starts to fade, and even Tiger has said that the older he gets, the better player he becomes. Just imagine how much more money Tiger Woods will have earned when he finally decides to call it quits.
Athletes probably get paid too much money (that’s a debate for another time), but in my opinion, if there is just one athlete who deserves that kind of money, it’s Tiger Woods. Why? Because, Tiger Woods is golf. In the last fifteen years, he has revolutionized the sport. More and more kids, especially in urban areas, are playing. Courses routinely set attendance records when he is playing. And when Tiger is in contention on any given Sunday, that tournament is bound to attract a nice television audience. In fact, attendance and ratings drop noticeably when Tiger is not involved. Every week on Wednesday nights, PGA executives should be on their knees praying for a good showing from Mr. Woods.
Let’s face it; there is no athlete who is as overwhelmingly and single-handedly responsible for the success of his or her sport as Tiger Woods. It’s not even close. Sure, if Lebron or Kobe weren’t around, the NBA might not be as exciting. If Albert Pujols or Manny Ramirez weren’t around, the MLB might not be as entertaining. If Crosby or Ovechkin weren’t around, the NHL would lose a great storyline. What all these hypotheticals have in common is that others would step into their places. But if Tiger Woods weren’t around, the PGA would not have anywhere near the popularity it has now. He is irreplaceable.
So, congratulations Tiger Woods for your achievement. One billion dollars, a hot babe to call your wife, two beautiful kids, and the oh-so-impossible (and you know what I’m talking about if you’re a golfer) ability to hit a ball 300+ yards down the center of the fairway, or stick it three feet from the pin from 200 yards out! You have changed the game forever. Golf is not just a game for rich white kids from the suburbs anymore. You’ve legitimized golf as a sport. And most importantly, you’ve single-handedly turned the PGA into a successful organization and brand. You deserve every one of those billion dollars. Just try not to spend it all in one place.