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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 8:49 a.m., Wednesday, October 5, 2005

It's official: Wie is a pro, and rich

Advertiser Staff

Michelle is a millionaire.

You can say it now. No rumors, no doubts.

Michelle Wie, the 15-year-old golfing phenom from Honolulu, announced to the world Wednesday that she is turning professional by signing endorsement deals with Nike and Sony.

"I am excited to start my journey as a professional golfer," she said. "I fell in love with the game the first day I picked up a club, and to have the opportunity to play at the highest levels of competition is both and honor and a privilege."

Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal — called "multi-year professional relationships."

The William Morris Agency will represent Wie in all of her professional endeavors.

When asked what were the biggest pros and cons about her decision, Wie said turning pro would allow her to help people.

"There were really no cons to it," she said.

Wie said she will donate $500,000 to the U.S. Golf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

The announcement was made at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hotel with satellite teleconferences in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco and a live feed worldwide.

At the conference Wie was flanked by Ross Berlin of the William Morris Agency, Mike Fasulo of Sony, Bob Wood of Nike.

Her parents, father BJ and Bo, were in the audience. BJ was taking pictures.

Wearing a hot pink top with the Nike swoosh, Wie said she was a little more nervous addressing the more than 45 media present at the hotel.

"Usually at a press conference (during golf tournaments), I don't make a speech. ... I'm real excited," she said.

The invitation-only event was held downstairs in the ballroom. Many interested tourists and fans pressed their faces against the glass trying to get a glimpse of the event inside.

Although the terms of the deal were not revealed. The Associated Press reported last week that the deal with Nike was worth about $4 million to $5 million a year, and that the Sony deal was for a similar amount.

"It's going to be super exciting ... so much more fun," Wie said.

Wie said she thought about becoming a professional for a really long time, but "it all came down to the last couple of months. I felt ready, comfortable enough. I felt it was the right time."

Wie will make her professional debut next week (Oct. 13-16) at the Samsung World Championship in Palm Desert, Calif., where she received a sponsor's exemption in the 20-player field.

She also will play the Casio World Open in Japan the week of Thanksgiving, her first tournament overseas against the men. Wie is unlikely to play any other tournaments this year.