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Accenture May Spur Exodus of Tiger Sponsors

Tiger Woods' nearly $100 million-a-year endorsement empire could be ready to crumble.

Accenture said Sunday it was terminating its six-year relationship with the world's No. 1 golfer. That makes the consulting firm the first sponsor to drop Woods since his November auto accident, which was followed by allegations of marital infidelity that he publicly acknowledged Friday.

Accenture built its image around Woods with slogans such as "Go on. Be a Tiger" and "We know what it takes to be a Tiger."

"The company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising," Accenture said in a statement Sunday.

Robert Tuchman, executive vice president of Premiere Global Sports, predicted more sponsors will "jump ship" this week. "There just comes a breaking point. He had this wholesome brand image. That's gone forever."

Howe Burch, an ad executive with TBC Advertising in Baltimore, said "family-oriented" sponsors such as Procter&Gamble's Gillette and AT&T, which signed a deal this year to slap its logo on his golf bag, might also drop Woods. Nike and EA Sports have issued statements supporting Woods.

Other sponsors distanced themselves over the weekend. Gillette said Saturday it was bowing to Woods' plea for privacy by "limiting" his role in marketing efforts. Within hours of Woods announcing his hiatus, AT&T said it was "evaluating" its "ongoing relationship."

Woods made $92 million of his $99.7 million in 2009 income from endorsements, according to Sports Illustrated's "Fortunate 50" ranking of top-earning U.S. athletes. This year he became the first athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings on and off the course, according to Forbes.

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