In 2007 (the latest year I could find data) the median family income here in the United States was just over $50,000. In that same year, according to Fortune Magazine, Tiger Woods took in $100,000,000 for endorsing sugar water, poorly designed and cheaply made shoes and, I must admit, fairly descent razors. So it would take the average American family 2000 years to earn what Tiger got (note that I don’t use the word “earn” in reference to “the Tiger”) in just one year. I believe that this disparity has given Mr. Woods a mental illness I call celebrityitis.
When we garner these incredibly disproportionate salaries on sports stars, CEOs and the lucky few actors and musicians who “make it” we are in essence driving them crazy. Michael Jackson is the classic example. Sure Mike was a good singer and a great dancer, but does that make him 20,000 times more valuable than the guy mowing his yard. If you surround yourself with yes-men and you take in more money in a week than most of your neighbors will see in a lifetime you could either emulate Paul Newman and shake your head at the ridiculousness of it all and use your money for the greater good or you can be like Michael and Tiger and convince yourself that you are special – not of this world – and therefore deserving.
One read of Tiger’s comments regarding his infidelity http://web.tigerwoods.com/news/article/200912027740572/news/ reveals a guy completely disconnected from reality. Those of us in the real world have to face the consequences of our actions; Tiger apparently likes the goodies but squeals at the prospect of paying the price. Tiger made a Faustian deal: to date he’s taken in nearly a billion dollars for selling the clean shaving, clean living family man (i.e. the Tiger Brand) in return he sold his privacy. All he had to do was keep it in his pants. Not only couldn’t he keep himself in check, but when he gets caught he has the gall to release a statement, devoid of any apology, which blames his problems on the “media.” Talk about biting the hand that feeds.
We certainly don’t do celebrities any favors by rewarding them with ridiculously disproportionate salaries and gawking at photos of them walking their dogs in gossip magazines. In fact I think we drive them crazy. It seems like it’s about time that we made our own lives so interesting that we don’t have to resort to idolizing a guy simply because he can hit a little white ball with a metal club.