Nike wants you to know that Tiger Woods is on a winning streak.
A new ad that was posted on the brand's social-media pages yesterday quotes the golf champ's familiar refrain, "Winning takes care of everything."
The declaration makes "just do it" sound like child's play. But it is the loaded reading of "everything" that has people all riled up – as if Woods' return to No. 1 in professional golf rankings completely erases his marital transgressions that played out very publicly in 2010.
Of course, Woods all but confirmed as much last week when he and U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn revealed they have been dating. He's officially moved on from ex-wife Elin Nordegren, even if the two sporty blondes bear a striking resemblance.
But the advertisement represents Nike's opinion, and as such, it appears to endorse Woods – both on the course and off.
An article from the Associated Press points out how, alongside all the Facebook likes, are comments that Nike made a "poor choice" and the words are "inappropriate" in the context of Woods' history of infidelity.
It's worth noting that Nike chose an image of Woods crouching low and surveying a potential play, rather than a more expected victory shot. His gaze is intense and calculated. He's not even smiling.
Maybe, subliminally, this is irking people as much as the message. Substitute a photo that actually shows him winning and the ad might have been less polarizing. Certainly, it would have corresponded more directly to Woods being back on his game.
Nike never severed ties with Woods during or after the scandal, and it's likely the brand had been waiting for this moment all along. And normally, everyone loves a comeback.
Yet the fact that people still haven't moved on from the drama – it's been three years – underscores how far Woods has fallen, and that what he's lost goes beyond any title (regained or not). Woods can think what he wants; but in the court of public opinion, winning may not be enough.