In 2009, Tiger Woods’ long history of infidelity became a media sensation in the same instant that his lawyers approached Rachel Uchitel to sign an NDA about their relationship — one that was “substantially longer than most N.D.A.s,” per the New York Times writer Katherine Rosman. Uchitel is speaking out now to Rosman about the terms of that agreement she signed in 2009 and how it has affected her ever since, saying she’ll be “making money to pay back Tiger for the rest of my life” even after filling bankruptcy in 2020. It’s a far cry from the big cash payout many in the media seemed to think Uchitel’s non-disclosure agreement would have netted her at the time — and it’s painful to see the extent to which Uchitel remains tied, financially and otherwise, to a story that should be so far in her past.
Uchitel began working with famed lawyer Gloria Allred soon after Woods’ lawyers first approached her with their agreement, and ultimately negotiated a payout of $5 million to sign an agreement “prohibiting her from talking about Mr. Woods with anyone,” with three additional payments of $1 million each to be paid out at set intervals. Of that first payment, Uchitel tells the New York Times she netted only $2 million, with $1 million going to Allred’s fees alone.
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Uchitel says she was later persuaded to give up the additional $3 million in staggered payments by Allred and her legal team after Woods’ legal team argued she had violated the agreement by appearing Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and agreeing to an OK Magazine interview for which the headline mentioned Woods’ name.
But Dr. Drew Pinsky had “promised not to mention Mr. Woods if she’d come on the show, for $400,000. ‘I was mourning a relationship,’ Ms. Uchitel said, and Dr. Pinsky ‘got me.'”
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OK, too, had “promised not to ask her about Mr. Woods.” So, Uchitel didn’t believe she had violated the agreement and didn’t want to give up anything, saying: “If I’m going to walk around with the scarlet letter, then they’re going to have to pay me $8 million, not five.”
But Allred’s lawyers pushed her to agree to give up the additional $3 million, a decision she regretted so deeply she later sued the firm for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, accepting a small settlement. A decade later, Uchitel was exhausted from dodging employment that would violate the terms of her NDA, either explicitly or implicitly (as with her former role with “sugar daddy” website Seeking Arrangements), and of feeling as though everyone could speak about her relationship with Woods except her.
She filed, granting her protection from creditors, and agreed to appear in HBO documentary Tiger. “Ten years later, people were still talking about me as a player in a story I had never talked about,” she reasoned. She also felt, looking at Woods’ standing in the public eye in 2020, that “she couldn’t harm his reputation or earnings” now.
Nonetheless, she heard from one of Woods’ lawyers Michael Holtz after the film came out. Uchitel says Holtz emailed her this: “If you get a job, I’ll come after your wages. If you get married, I’ll go after your joint bank account. I will come after you for the rest of your life.”
Uchitel called in lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman to speak to Holtz on her behalf, who told the Times: “I felt badly for her. She had a consensual relationship with Woods, no more her fault than his, but after it was over he was able to move on with his golf career, while she was stuck with the stigma of being the other woman.”
This stigma, of course, took on her personal and social life too. Even if she could find work that didn’t require her to speak publicly about Woods, it was difficult for her reputation not to interfere. She cites a pair of children’s clothing boutiques she used to run as shutting down in part because “she lost customers when the mothers realized whom they were buying rhinestone sweatpants from.”
She also describes a first date apparently “typical of others” when she waited two hours at a restaurant and then saw that “he emailed her after Googling: ‘I know who you are and I’m not going to be able to be seen with you.'”
Uchitel is uncertain what the future will hold with regard to her legal obligations under the NDA and after filing bankruptcy, but the extent to which her opportunities have been limited by a relationship she had with a public figure in 2009 should be looked at with just as critical an eye as has been applied to Woods’ media treatment.
SheKnows reached out repeatedly to Michael Holtz for comment.
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