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Nike Golf Director Mike Kelly Discusses Tiger Woods' $100 Million Ad ContractAired September 16, 2000 - 9:48 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Golf star Tiger Woods has signed a new five-year endorsement contract with Nike. That's not news, you probably heard about that. The news is the deal is reportedly worth $100 million. That's believed to be the biggest endorsement deal in sports history. That's on top of his multimillion-dollar winnings in golf tournaments, plus a number of other lucrative endorsement deals.
Now, you may ask yourself this question. Is any athlete worth that much money? That's a good question. Of course, it depends on who you ask.
Right now, we'll ask the company that's paying all the money to Tiger Woods, Nike. Mike Kelly is the company's director of golf marketing, and he is with us this morning from Portland, Oregon, where it is still awfully early, and we appreciate him getting up early on our behalf.
Good to see you, sir.
MIKE KELLY, NIKE GOLF: Good morning, Miles.
O'BRIEN: All right. If you could just give us a sense of -- well, you can't confirm the figure, can you? But is it -- could you give us the number of digits?
KELLY: It's a lot of digits, let's just put it that way, and it's a very complicated contract, but we think that Tiger is worth every penny of it.
O'BRIEN: All right, Mike Kelly, we are obviously having some problems with the audio on Mr. Kelly, and we are going to check in downstairs in just a few moments with Gary Gelfand.
Is Gary ready down there to do some sports? Gary's always ready to do sports. Gary Gelfand, straighten up and fly right, we need you right now.
O'BRIEN: Let's turn back now to where we were, Portland, Oregon, where we find Mike Kelly, who is with the Golf Marketing Division of Nike. Mike, hopefully we can hear you now.
Question I asked for you was how many digits in this contract. Can you tell me that much, at least?
KELLY: Well, there's a lot of digits, and whatever the amount is, we actually think that Tiger's well worth it and probably will be a bargain at the end of the five-year deal.
O'BRIEN: Really, a bargain at this reported $100 million? You don't have to confirm or deny that portion of it, but given all the digits we've heard, you can -- a company like Nike can get that money back?
KELLY: Oh, yes. I mean, Tiger, you know, is a phenomenal athlete. He's got more upside in his career than he does downside at this particular juncture. He's a 24-year-old golfer who transcends the game of golf, and really is the most visible athlete in the world.
And to attach our brand name and our products with Tiger, you know, we're very excited about it, because he does transcend the game of golf and actually sport, to some degree.
O'BRIEN: Well, and Nike, up until recently, its association with Tiger, wasn't exactly a golf powerhouse, you know, you think of Michael Jordan and perhaps basketball shoes, maybe tennis. What does this bode for Nike? Are you going to come out with a line of clubs, for example, and will Tiger be playing with them?
KELLY: Well, that's a great question. I mean, if you look at Nike's history, it's been always about the athletes and then the products that we make for the athletes. And when you start dealing with the elite athletes, whether it's Prefontaine (ph) in the '70s or Michael Jordan in the '80s and '90s, and now Tiger Woods, it forces you to be a better manufacturer of products, a better designer, a better R&D person.
And, you know, our golf division is very small compared to the rest of the industry, but it got a huge boost when Tiger switched from a wound ball to a nonwound ball this past summer. And since he switched to the Nike ball, he's won five out of eight tournaments, including those three majors.
And, you know, our business has basically exploded on the golf side. We've got a lot of upside, we've got a lot of opportunity for the future. And I think you're going to hear a lot about Nike golf in the years to come.
O'BRIEN: You know, I suppose you could make a case that Tiger Woods could hit rocks and probably win still. But nevertheless, I assume Nike is enjoying this.
I'm curious, I note Tiger Woods had a little bit of controversy crossing some picket lines to do commercials for Buick. Is there some concern that as he starts his Nike relationship in earnest, that you're going to run into controversy regarding the SAG strike, Screen Actors Guild?
KELLY: Well, you know, obviously that's a situation where Tiger and Nike really are a lightning rod for all types of controversy, both positive and negative. And, you know, we like to obviously deal with that as those individual cases come up. But what he's doing on the course, you know, we obviously love it, that gets a lot of exposure. It shows what he can do with our products and our branding.
And at the same time, we're more happy about what he does with his foundation and the Nike Foundation and the kids all around the world. So there's a lot of things that both you get positive and negatively off the golf course. But we're excited about what he does on the positive side.
O'BRIEN: All right, Mike Kelly is a man who is sitting in the catbird seat with Tiger Woods as his guy for the next five years for a reported $100 million, although he's not confirming that. Thanks so much for being with us on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
KELLY: Thank you.
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