Tiger Woods Scandal Costs Shareholders Billions

Celebrity affairs can cost more than just a marriage, new research suggests.

Since the scandal broke about Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs, shareholders of Tiger Woods sponsors lost a collective $5 billion to $12 billion, according to research from the University of California, Davis.

The losses are potentially much larger than the damage to Woods’ own income. “Total shareholder losses may exceed several decades’ worth of Tiger Woods’ personal endorsement income,” said Victor Stango, a professor of economics at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and co-author of the study, on the university’s Web site.

Stango and fellow UC Davis economics professor Christopher Knittel looked at stock market returns for the 13 trading days that fell between November 27, the date of the car crash that ignited the scandal, and December 17, a week after the golfer announced his indefinite leave from the sport. The economists compared the returns of Woods’ sponsors to those of both the total stock market and of each sponsor’s closest competitor.

The study looked at eight sponsors for which stock prices are available: Accenture; AT&T; Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf (Electronic Arts); Gillette (Proctor and Gamble); Nike; Gatorade (PepsiCo); TLC Laser Eye Centers; and Golf Digest (Conde Nast).

The researchers said they also examined returns for four years before the car accident to determine how each sponsor’s market performance normally correlates with that of the total market and of competitor firms.

The conclusion: The scandal reduced shareholder value in sponsor companies by about $12 billion, or 2.3%.

Accenture was the only stock immune to the scandal. Stocks that fared the worst, with a 4.3% “scandal-generated” drop, were Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, Gatorade, and Nike, according to the research.

“Our findings speak to a larger question of general interest in the business and academic communities: Does celebrity sponsorship have any impact on a firm’s bottom line?” Stango said. “Our analysis makes clear that while having a celebrity of Tiger Woods’ stature as an endorser has undeniable upside, the downside risk is substantial too.”