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GM Slams Brakes on Tiger's Free Rides

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In the rarefied world of sports celebrities and endorsements, Tiger Woods occupied a special place. Like Zeus on Olympus, Woods occupied a spot above the average sports champion. His touch on a product was the Gold Card and he very wisely built this into a very big business which some have estimated at easily $1 billion a year.

That changed on the night of Nov. 27, 2009 when Woods, backing out of his palatial estate, kept on going, jumped a wall and ended up crashing his Cadillac Escalade SUV. At the time, Woods credited his now-estranged wife with saving him.

It was also the crash heard around Woods' world that turned the Gold Card into the Lead Card almost overnight. It seems the legendary golfer, who seemed to be able to do literally anything he wanted to a golf ball, couldn't do that with his life.

That Nov. 27 crash brought a crowd of women out of the woodwork who claim to have had relations with the golfing great. Indeed, almost daily, for a bit, it seemed that a new relationship popped up and it complicated an already-complicated situation.

For Woods, though, the reputed indiscretions were very costly. As noted, his name of endorsement of a product guaranteed extra sales, so he earned piles of money from companies, eager to use his name or likeness. The crash, though, and the subsequent stories turned that torrent of money into a trickle as companies Woods faster than you'd drop a hot rock.

Accenture, AT&T, Tag Heuer and Golf Magazine are among the major firms who have terminated his services, while Boston's Gillette Co. is said to be honoring Woods' wish that the relationship between them be turned down for personal reasons. It's not off, according to published reports, it's just on the back burner.

Google News reported that Nike has dug in its heels and will reportedly stay with Woods and wire service reports have indicated that Electronic Arts, maker of the popular Sims series of electronic games, is also keeping Woods golfing game in its active catalogue.

One company that has really put the brakes on its relationship with Woods is General Motors, where Woods served as spokesman for Buick through the end of 2008. Since that time, according to the Associated Press, the champion golfer has been receiving free loaner vehicles.

Now, according to GM spokesmen, the company is saying the agreement for the loaner vehicles ended at the end of 2009, about a month after the fateful crash.

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