With all the world waiting for Tiger Woods to talk about his out-of-control scandal, heinnews’s David Hein this week talked to Herme Chua, who makes some money on the side as a Tiger Woods lookalike. Chua, who uses the nickname Tiger 2, has appeared on Live with Regis and Kelly and the Insider and has been interviewed for People magazine and espn.com. He also has worked with Golf Digest, Marriott and Tag Heuer among others. Hein and Chua discussed his thoughts on Tiger Woods’ scandal; how business is going as a Tiger lookalike; what Woods should do; and what it’s like being a Tiger Woods lookalike.
heinnews: Herme you have been working as a Tiger Woods lookalike for years now, making upwards dozens of appearances over those years and study him and his movements and personality quite extensively. You also consider yourself a Tiger Woods fan. What has it been like for you the last couple weeks with all of these amazing revelations surfacing about Tiger Woods?
Chua: I think like many other fans, there was quite a mix of emotions – first shock, then disbelief, disappointment, and then sympathy for everyone involved. I felt so sorry for Elin and the children, because they had no control over what happened. I also feel bad for Tiger, who probably never realized that his bad decisions would cause such havoc. On the other hand, Tiger’s misfortune has actually been good for my business. I noticed that the e-mail inquiries went up dramatically, and my website has received a 5-10 times increase in hits. I was also interviewed on national TV and also appeared in a YouTube movie re-enactment of what happened.
heinnews: Sponsors have already been having a response, many deciding to drop him or taking out of stores advertisements featuring Tiger Woods. What are your thoughts on this? Is it surprising at all?
Chua: I am not surprised by their actions – Tiger’s actions have caused him to lose his great role model status. Many people no longer view him as a role model. I was surprised that Phil Knight of Nike called it a “minor blip” though – I think many people would disagree with that statement.
heinnews: Your wife and family know about your appearances as Tiger. What has their response been to all this madness revolving around him? Also their response to you doing this work?
Chua: Everyone has been shocked. They continue to support my work, and still enjoy seeing when I appear on TV or other media.
heinnews: Staying on that, of course the whole story is only about three weeks old. But how has it impacted you doing work as Tiger? Have you made any appearances since this all started?
Chua: It has definitely made an impact – I have appeared on CBS on The Insider, have been filmed for a YouTube movie, and recently did a photo shoot and video interview. I have also received numerous inquiries for various jobs. It has been a lot busier than usual.
heinnews: And do you think it will have a lingering affect on your work as Tiger over the next few months?
Chua: I really don’t know what to expect – it has been busy, but eventually I expect the demand for a Tiger Woods lookalike to slow down.
heinnews: After reading about some of the things that Tiger has done, have you thought at all about giving up on working as a Tiger lookalike? If so, why?
Chua: I haven’t really thought about giving up the job, simply because the demand is still there, and in fact it has increased. I know this is probably just going to be in the short term, but while there is a demand for my services, I do not think I will give it up. I might think about giving it up when the demand slows down. All along I have done this as a fun part-time way to earn a little extra money. I haven’t depended on the income from these jobs, so it will be easy to walk away from it all. It has been a fun 9 years, and I have gotten a chance to meet a lot of really nice people.
heinnews: Have you or the agencies you work with been contacted at all by Tiger’s people? If so, what has their response been to you and the agencies? Are they asking you to not make any appearances?
Chua: I have not been contacted at all by any of Tiger’s people.
heinnews: Lots of people are saying what they think Tiger should do now to help repair his image – make a public statement, go on the Oprah Winfrey show, etc. As someone who has experienced Tiger Woods fans close up and personal more than anyone else other than Tiger Woods himself, what would you suggest? Or what do you think he must do now?
Chua: I wished that he just came out and admitted everything from the beginning. I think that it was so much uglier to hear bits and pieces come out from all of these women, and it made it hard to figure out who was telling the truth or not. We still don’t really know what really happened – I’m sure some of these people are lying. Right now, I think he just needs to figure out if they are going to try to still make their marriage work – that is probably going to be the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. I think he needs to do some soul searching and reflect on what type of person he wants to be.
heinnews: How many appearances have you had since the scandal broke? What was the event and what was it like for you doing it? Had it changed at all? Also the response from the fans?
Chua: There have been 2 memorable things that happened since the scandal broke out – 1 was been getting interviewed on The Insider by Niecy Nash, and the other was being part of a YouTube movie that was a spoof of Tiger’s voicemail message. The reaction has been mostly positive – of course, you can’t please everyone, but it has mostly been very positive. People have found the YouTube video to be funny, and I thought they did a great job with it. I also did a recent photo shoot and video interview, but I’m not sure where that will end up yet…
heinnews: Do you think this whole scandal will lead to more people wanting to have Tiger Woods lookalike make appearances? Could you imagine totally different areas of society asking for a Tiger lookalike?
Chua: I think the scandal is going to lessen the demand for a Tiger lookalike. All of the attention I have gotten is only temporary. I don’t think that people will want a Tiger around, unless he comes back to golf and continues setting records.
heinnews: Last question, what is the biggest positive to come out of all this?
Chua: There really isn’t much of a positive thing that can come out of this. I think that this scandal has hurt so many people, and it has been devastating. If you look at the damage that this has done and the number of people it has affected, this has got to be one of the most damaging scandals in a long time – it affects Tiger, Elin, the children, golf fans everywhere, the sport of golf, the PGA tour, the corporate sponsors, etc. Tiger has brought so much to the game of golf, and this scandal has also taken a lot of it away.
For those interested in more information about Chua and his work, take a look at www.tigerwoodslookalike.com