What's Come Out About Tiger Woods' Cheating Scandal

The following article includes mentions of drug use and addiction.

Tiger Woods was once one of the biggest names in the sports world. At just 21 years old, Woods became the youngest person ever to win the Masters golf tournament, and he continued to have a successful, record-breaking golf career well into his 30s, per Sports Illustrated.

On the outside, he had it all: a loving wife, beautiful kids, an adoring family, and a squeaky clean reputation that made him loved and admired by the world. Appearances are not all that they seem, however. 

In November 2009, the world as Woods knew it turned upside down when he was exposed as a cheater leading a life unknown to his wife and family. This revelation would cost him everything: his marriage, his career in part, and his reputation, which would take years for him to build back up. It's been over a decade since the golfer's fall from grace, and here is what has come out about Woods' cheating scandal since then.

Tiger Woods tried to cover his tracks

Long before his cheating was exposed in 2009, the press already had a similar story on Tiger Woods ... until he squashed it. In 2007, the golfer negotiated a deal with Men's Fitness to do a lengthy cover story and photo spread in the magazine. In return, the National Enquirer wouldn't publish a story, with proof, of Woods cheating on his wife, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Both the National Enquirer and Men's Fitness are owned by American Media Inc., so where one money-making story fell through for the National Enquirer, another was able to flourish for Men's Fitness. The August 2007 issue of Men's Fitness that featured Woods sold 176,000 copies, with a 30% increase in sales compared to the publication's average.

The story The National Enquirer was building prior to the alleged agreement, the existence of which American Media denied, centered around a suspicious encounter of Woods with a waitress named Mindy Lawton. The publication reportedly took pictures of the pair entangled in Woods' car in an empty church parking lot, an encounter which would later be validated by Lawton herself after the scandal reached the public, per The New York Post.

The deal, however, completely silenced this story and prevented Woods' extramarital affair from going public. But two years later in 2009, the National Enquirer published an exposé detailing his affair with a different woman, which he initially tried to hide from his wife and family.

His 2009 car accident changed everything

The week of Thanksgiving 2009 permanently changed the life of Tiger Woods. The day prior to the holiday, The National Enquirer published a tell-all exposé titled "Tiger Woods Cheating Scandal," which chronicled Woods' years of infidelity with a longtime girlfriend named Rachel Uchitel. The story fueled an already growing suspicion of infidelity for Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, and when Woods was asleep on the night of Thanksgiving, she discovered text messages to and from other women on his phone, according to The New York Post.

Following an argument between the two, Woods left the house and attempted to speed away in his Cadillac Escalade, only to crash his car just moments later. ABC News reported on the event and stated that "Woods was driving a 2009 Cadillac SUV alone when he hit a fire hydrant and then slammed into a tree at 2:25 a.m." The Associated Press learned from police that Nordegren was the first to get to Woods after the accident and had used a golf club to break a window of the car and help get him out of the vehicle (via The Los Angeles Times).

Despite the jolting nature of his crash, the accident only drew more attention to Woods' personal life, which led to an avalanche of stories about his double life and multiple affairs.

Tiger Woods made several statements to make his case

The car accident and the whirlwind of cheating accusations shined a bigger, brighter spotlight on the already famous Tiger Woods. With the media inquiring for details regarding the nature of the event, as well as his affairs, the golfer made multiple statements within a short period of time to address the public.

His first statement came just two days after the accident on November 29. Woods vaguely addressed media speculation surrounding his marriage and possible affairs, stating in part, "This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible" (via Tiger Woods' website). Woods made another statement on December 2 and divulged a bit more about his personal life and indiscretions. He said in part, "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. ... I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family," per his professional website.

Nearly three months after the accident, Woods once again made a statement on the matter, with more sincerity and personal accountability. On February 19, 2010, the golfer held a press conference and publicly apologized for his wrongdoings, saying, "The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame" (via The New York Times).

He allegedly had over 100 affairs

Once the initial story broke that Tiger Woods had cheated on his wife with Rachel Uchitel, several women came forward with stories of affairs that they had with the golfer. The National Enquirer reported that Woods confessed to having 120 affairs with different women. They included the 21-year-old neighbor of Woods and his wife Elin Nordegren, whom the couple knew since her teenage years, per The New York Post.

Woods' many affairs included women in Florida and Las Vegas. He met and started dating Jamie Jungers not long after his marriage to Nordegren in 2004. According to Jungers herself, the golfer would travel to Las Vegas frequently, as his trainer was based there, which is how the two met. She told The Sun they were "so close" and "used to have intimate conversations about everything." She also alleged that Woods had a problem with misusing sleeping pills.

Rachel Uchitel, the secret girlfriend that sparked Nordegren's confrontation on Thanksgiving Day in 2009, met Woods through their mutual friend, Yankees baseball player Derek Jeter. Uchitel and Woods started dating in 2009, with The New York Times reporting that Woods would "fly her around the world to tournaments and events" and had promised to "invest in a restaurant she dreamed of opening." Uchitel would later share more of her recollections about her time with Woods in the HBO documentary, "Tiger," released in 2021.

Tiger Woods lost millions in sponsorships and endorsements

Tiger Woods' sudden fall from grace came in a number of ways and included losing millions of dollars in sponsorships and endorsements from several companies. The news of his scandal tainted his image severely and also influenced his desire to refrain from playing golf during that time, which impacted his many endorsement deals. After Tiger announced that he would take a break from the sport, multi-million dollar sponsors dropped him, including "Gillette, Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade, and Tag Heuer," according to Fortune.

The golfer saw a 30 percent decrease in endorsement earnings from 2008 to 2010, with ESPN reporting that his earnings dropped from $128 million in 2008 to $90 million in 2010. Woods was not the only one that saw a significant loss in revenue, however. According to the Daily News, shareholders of the golfer's sponsors, including "Nike, Gatorade, and AT&T," collectively lost $12 billion.

The sponsors that did remain with Woods through the shockwaves of the scandal did not do so without imposing some kind of penalty on him. One of his biggest sponsors, Nike, cut his earnings from $20 million in 2009 to $10 million in 2010, "as a response to his public behavior," per Fortune.

His divorce cost him $100 million

As he was losing money from sponsors and endorsements, Tiger Woods was also losing money in a divorce from his wife Elin Nordegren. Nordegren filed for divorce from Woods in 2010, and it was finalized in August of that year. While it was initially speculated that she would see nearly $750 million from the divorce, Nordegren ended up with $100 million, still a hefty price tag for Woods, per TMZ.

During the finalization of his divorce, Woods "took out $54.5 million on his home in Jupiter Island, Florida," according to Fortune. The mortgage cost Woods approximately $10 million annually, including over $400,000 in property taxes. The mortgage on Woods' home was a part of his divorce settlement, with public documents showing Nordegren as the issuer of the mortgage (via Golf News Net).

While the divorce between Woods and Nordegren was caused due to Woods' infidelity, the two remained civil and prioritized the well-being of their children throughout the process. In a joint statement obtained by People, the pair said, "We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future. While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us."

The pro golfer struggled with sex addiction and substance use

Following his cheating scandal, Tiger Woods allegedly was treated for sex addiction. According to a January 2010 ABC News report, the National Enquirer claimed that he had checked into Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, known for its sex rehabilitation services. But The Sun reported that he was at another sex addiction rehab the same month, the Montrose Place Luxury Addiction Treatment & Rehabilitation Center, located in Cape Town, South Africa (via Business Insider).

Woods has also struggled with substance use, an issue attributed to insomnia as well as the extensive injuries he experienced throughout his golfing career. They include stress fractures in his tibia, cartilage damage to his knee, "an inflamed facet joint in his neck," pinched nerves, and more, as reported by NBC Golf. In a 2017 statement obtained by ESPN, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said, "Tiger has been dealing with so much pain physically. And that leads to insomnia and sleep issues. This has been going on for a long time."

On May 29, 2017, Woods was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Jupiter, Florida. Toxicology reports showed that the golfer had "Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and THC" in his system at the time of his arrest, per Golf Digest. Following his arrest, Woods sought treatment for his misuse of drugs and said in a statement, "Recently, I had been trying on my own to treat my back pain and a sleep disorder, including insomnia, but I realize now it was a mistake to do this without medical assistance" (via CNN).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tiger Woods took a temporary break from golfing due to the scandal

The pressure of the media and the golfing world after news of his cheating scandal broke had an effect on Tiger Woods. Though he had been painted as a bad person by news outlets and was viewed as a monster by the general public, he still sought to regain control of his image and shield himself and his family from the scrutiny.

On December 11, 2009, Woods announced that he would be stepping away from his career indefinitely. He wrote in an official statement on his website, "After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf" (via ABC News). The golfer additionally noted that this decision was made in order to mend the problems within his family, saying, "I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person."

His break lasted approximately three months, with Woods announcing his plan to return to the sport in March 2010. In a statement obtained by CNN, he said, "After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I'm ready to start my season at Augusta." Woods would ultimately finish fourth in the 2010 Masters Tournament, with Phil Mickelson winning the title, per Golfweek.

His reputation would ultimately never be the same

Tiger Woods' reputation was permanently changed after his cheating scandal. Once one of the most admired athletes in the world, Woods quickly became the face of a man who destroyed his family, cut ties with friends, and lost it all.

Longtime friend and caddie Steve Williams had worked with Woods since his early start as a professional golfer in 1999. But in 2011, Woods fired him. In the documentary "Tiger," Williams revealed that his firing came after he took on a caddying job while Woods was taking a break from the sport. On their split, Williams said, "Tiger was the best man at my wedding. I didn't think we'd have no communication for the rest of our life ...To this day, I find that a hard pill to swallow, someone he spent 13 years with ... the guy can't even speak to you" (via E! News).

John Garrity, a writer for Sports Illustrated, spoke about how Woods changed over the years, from the beginning of his career to a few years before his cheating scandal, in Curt Sampson's book, "Roaring Back: The Rise and Fall of Tiger Woods." Garrity called Woods a "pathological narcissist" and further noted, "All of his human relationships were transactional. If you couldn't help him achieve his goals, he had no use for you." Furthermore, Golf Digest writer Dan Jenkins wrote the piece "My (Fake) Interview with Tiger Woods," which relentlessly portrayed the golfer as self-centered, apathetic to those close to him, and focused on nothing else but his career stats.

He has dated many women since his divorce

Following his divorce from Elin Nordegren, Tiger Woods went on to date several women, with some of his relationships ending on bad terms.

Three years after his divorce, Woods started seeing Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn in 2013. The pair would date for nearly three years before ultimately splitting up in May 2015. The breakup was amicable, with Vonn saying in a statement on her Facebook page, "I will always cherish the memories that we've created together. Unfortunately, we both lead incredibly hectic lives that force us to spend a majority of our time apart," per The New York Post. Woods moved on and started dating Kristin Smith in 2015. Their relationship ended two years later, and on bad terms. In 2017, Smith suspected Woods was cheating, and he pushed her to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which would legally silence her and keep her from speaking about any details of their relationship, as reported by TMZ. After their breakup, Smith no longer wanted to commit to the NDA and entered into a legal battle with Woods over the agreement.

The golfer bounced back quickly after his breakup with Smith and started dating Erica Herman in 2017. According to Page Six, "Herman and Woods met when she was an undergrad at the University of Central Florida." Herman worked at Woods' restaurant in Jupiter, Florida, which only strengthened their connection. Their relationship is going strong at the time of this writing, and according to People, Woods' children and ex-wife Elin Nordegren are pleased with Herman.

The HBO documentary Tiger dug into the scandal

In 2021, HBO released a documentary titled "Tiger," which told the story of Tiger Woods' rise and fall and the toll the fame took on his personal life. The story of Woods cannot be told without addressing his scandal, and the documentary touched on details of his cheating, with Rachel Uchitel as a main voice throughout.

Uchitel opened up about their passionate affair in the documentary, detailing how they first met, long conversations about their lives, their love for one another, and their ultimate split after Elin Nordegren discovered their messages on Woods' phone, per the Daily Mail. Uchitel appeared to have the freedom to discuss her relationship with Tiger, but this wasn't always the case. According to The New York Times, just days after the news broke about their affair, she signed a non-disclosure agreement, "prohibiting her from talking about Mr. Woods with anyone." As part of the NDA, she was given $5 million. To further ensure she'd keep mum, she was promised she'd receive $1 million annually for the following three years. She said Woods' attorney threatened legal action after she appeared in the documentary. 

NDAs are a common string that seem to connect at least two of Woods' affairs together, with Uchitel and Kristin Smith (his ex-girlfriend) both falling prey to being silenced. Though it is unknown if any others have been silenced in this manner, it is nonetheless a testament to how far Woods will go to hide his secrets over the years.