This tale is about how the current scandal that Tiger is enduring, should have been kicked off in the summer of 2007. As the story goes, it was then that Tiger Woods was caught and photographed by the National Enquirer with a Florida restaurant employee named Mindy Lawton. He then, struck a deal to keep it under wraps.
The National Enquirer episode began with an encounter in the late winter or early spring of 2007 in a church parking lot near Mr. Woods’s home in Windermere, Fla., according to the people with direct knowledge of the situation. A person working on behalf of the National Enquirer, based in Boca Raton, Fla., tailed Mr. Woods to the empty parking lot, these people said. Hidden from view, the photographer snapped photographs of the married Mr. Woods meeting a woman in his car. After the encounter, the photographer followed Mr. Woods to a small airport, where the golfer got on a private jet and took off, those people said.
Shortly after, Woods shocked many in the journalism business, especially Golf Digest, who had preferential access to Woods, by signing on to do a cover story with Men’s Fitness. Who just so happens to be owned by American Media Inc.. The same company that owns the National Enquirer.
In the summer of 2007, a representative for Tiger Woods called an editor at Golf Digest with some awkward news. Though the magazine was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to secure preferential access to Mr. Woods, the golfer had agreed to a rare, in-depth interview and cover shoot with another publication, Men’s Fitness.
Golf Digest editor Jerry Tarde acknowledged that he was “mystified” that Mr. Woods had agreed to this. Under Golf Digest’s contract with Mr. Woods, the monthly, which is owned by Condé Nast Publications Inc., spent as much as $1 million annually on donations to the Tiger Woods Foundation, printing the charity’s annual report and sponsoring many of Mr. Woods’s preferred tournaments, according to a person familiar with the terms. In return, Mr. Woods agreed to contribute monthly articles on golf techniques and limit his appearances in competing publications.
Yet never had Golf Digest been granted the level of access to the golfer’s private life allowed for in the article and photo shoot published in Men’s Fitness in August 2007.
As expected, America Media denies this ever happened. But there are plenty people that maintain that it did.
According to accounts provided by former employees of AMI and other individuals with direct knowledge of the arrangement, there was a deal between Mr. Woods and the owner of the National Enquirer. A close examination of how exposure of that alleged infidelity was suppressed more than two years ago reveals fresh details about the quid pro quo. It also offers a look at how Mr. Woods and his handlers worked to hide the golfer’s off-course behavior to protect the image of a superstar whose endorsements made him one of the richest athletes in sports.
As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And something tells me that there’s still more fire to come in the days to follow for Tiger Woods.
How Tiger Protected His Image (Wall Street Journal)