The pitfalls of fame are costly


So you think you want to be rich and famous?


Be careful what you wish for.

Ask Tiger Woods what it’s like to be rich and famous.

Well, you can’t. Because he changed his cell phone number and presumably is cowering in his den. Nobody knows for sure where he’s at. If they did, and had a camera handy, they could fetch as much as $250,000 the tabloids are willing to pay for a fresh photo.

Fame and fortune might have seemed like a pretty good thing for him a month ago. He was already recognized as the greatest golfer of all time (although he’s still four wins away from equaling Jack Nicholas’ record of 18 major championships). He was, and still is, incredibly rich. Endorsements galore. Squeaky clean image. Beautiful wife. Two beautiful kids. Beautiful house. A large automobile. Everything you could possibly want in life, he had it.

But that was three weeks ago.

Tiger is still rich and famous, but what he’s famous for these days is for being one of the greatest scoundrels of all time. At last count, 14 women have been linked to what Tiger has admitted on his Web site as being infidelity.

Voted “Athlete of the Decade” by Associated Press just this week, many pundits are calling this the biggest fall from grace in sports history.

Sponsors have spurned him. His image is tarnished. His beautiful wife is divorcing him and will probably take the kids. He’s a prisoner in his beautiful house. He wrecked his large automobile. Everything a person could possibly want, he has lost.

In addition, Tiger is paying the price that comes with being famous. He’s so famous that, thanks to the tabloid media, the general public has become privy to details of his personal life. We’ve heard details about his performance off the links, been able to vet his text messages and eavesdrop on his voice mails.

That kind of thing would never happen to, say, Lucas Glover, who finished in the top 10 on the PGA Tour’s money list and won the U.S. Open last summer.

But because Tiger is so famous, he has become fair game. Private details of his life have been exposed. He’s being hunted by the paparazzi. He’s a prisoner in his own home — one of four he owns.

He’s still got his money, though.

Well, he lost a lot of that, too, and stands to lose a lot more, but Tiger’s so famous he can afford it. He was the first billion dollar athlete, so no matter the fallout he’s still going to be in good shape financially.

No, don’t feel sorry for Tiger; he had it coming. He may be a no-good, lowdown, dirty dog, but he’s still filthy rich. And he’s only 33, so he’ll make a heck of a lot more money when he makes his return to the PGA Tour.

But is being rich such a good thing? How many stories do you hear about lottery winners who end up squandering it all and filing for bankruptcy?

Money breeds greed. It can tear families apart. It’s said to be a leading cause of divorce. It’s the root of all evil. And you can’t take it with you.

Don’t get me wrong, I like money. It’s nice to be able to spend it on the important things in life, like food. It’s good to be able to spend it on things that improve the quality of life, like an iPod or a flat screen TV, or on Christmas presents this time of year. Or give it away to charity, because it feels good to give.

Tiger’s still got his money, all right. But he’s paying the price for being famous.

Poor Tiger.

Last is general manager of El Defensor Chieftain