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Video: ‘It wasn’t a big secret,’ alleged Woods mistress says

  1. Closed captioning of: ‘It wasn’t a big secret,’ alleged Woods mistress says

    >>> al, thank you. to the growing scandal involving tiger woods . in statement friday, woods apologized for his admitted infidelity and asked for forgiveness from his family and friends. and said he was taking an indefinite leave from golf and now one of his major sponsors has dropped him. an exclusive interview a woman who said she had a two and a half-year affair with tiger woods is speaking out. let's get this right out of the gate here, why are you talking now?

    >> because i'm being attacked. they're saying horrible things in a very hurtful things that just are not true.

    >> like what?

    >> that i'm a hooker and a prostitute and that he's paid me for things. and it's not true.

    >> none of that is true?

    >> none of it.

    >> you got nothing? financially gained nothing from your relationship?

    >> that's correct.

    >> but why speak about this now? i know you have a 7-year-old son. did that play into it at all?

    >> that's everything. that's why i wanted -- i'm not trying to volunteer myself saying you know i'm part of this and me, too, look at me. i'm very ashamed of this. and i have to set an example for my son that i made a mistake. and these are the consequences.

    >> but you knew that going in. i mean you knew going into a relationship with tiger woods that someday you might be in this position, right?

    >> i did not think i'd be in this position. i thought, i knew what was happening was wrong. and i knew that there could be problems. that's why i walked away from this relationship. i believe some things he had told me. and i wanted to believe them. and then his actions were speaking louder than his words. and i got out of it.

    >> let's start from the beginning. tell me how you met him. in 2006 at a nightclub.

    >> that's correct. yes.

    >> how did he approach you?

    >> he did not approach me. he sent somebody over who was supposedly his trainer and just said, tiger woods would like to meet you and would you be interested in having a drink with him and his friends. and i agreed.

    >> one thing led to another.

    >> that's correct.

    >> tell me how the relationship evolved?

    >> he immediately just pursued me. and he would tall and text and invite me on trips with him. and we built a friendship. and that's how it all started.

    >> how intense was the relationship? how long was this relationship really carrying on?

    >> it was only six months of a physical relationship. and then i ended things. and then we did maintain a two and a half-year friendship after that. and he still pursued me and invited me to numerous places. and again, i did not go.

    >> you didn't go. why not?

    >> because i wasn't interested. i just -- i felt guilty when i saw the picture of his wife and his child. i had convictions and i just -- you know, i knew that it was wrong. and --

    >> so after six months you came to this realization. you knew he was married though, going in. but after six months, you all of a sudden, the lightbulb went off and you realized, i can't keep doing this?

    >> i realized, yes, i don't want to be a part of it. and i also was working full-time and i didn't have time, really to pursue it. and just knowing that he had a newborn child. and i think the things that he was telling me, i realized were false.

    >> what was he telling you?

    >> just that his marriage was on the rocks and there was a baby on the way and he had to uphold this image. and stick it out for now. and things were not good at home.

    >> and what made you realize then, that he wasn't being true to his word. that that wasn't, he wasn't going to leave his wife.

    >> the media. i started seeing them out and the pictures being printed. and i just -- then i didn't believe it. and then i also would wake up in the night and he would be texting, you know in the middle of the night . and i would ask who he's texting and he said checking emails. so i had a feeling it was something bigger.

    >> you started realizing at that point with the texts and or things that he was having relationships with multiple women.

    >> that's correct. yes.

    >> and when you start hearing the names of the multiple women and the pictures, you're grouped in with them.

    >> yeah.

    >> how are you feeling seeing all of that?

    >> it was disappointing. because i think we with all would like to think we were special. even though we knew what was happening was wrong. i had no idea that it was this intense. that the scale was this large. and --

    >> was he telling you during this relationship with him that he wanted a future with you?

    >> he led you to believe that.

    >> how?

    >> just the things he would say to you. and just how horrible things supposedly were at home. and you know, how much fun he has with you and how much he cares. and inviting you everywhere. i honestly don't know how he had the time to have so many women in his life.

    >> and how did you manage keeping this all a secret? how did he manage keeping it all a secret for so long, do you think?

    >> i don't know. i don't think it was a big secret. that's how i'm, that's why i'm here. because i think too many people saw that. and i didn't come forward and say, you know, i had an affair and i wanted to publicize this. this is something i'm embarrassed about. but i know that people knew. and he didn't hide it so well. he did ask at times, you know at times, don't call me right now, there's people around. or i'll call you later. but -- people knew.

    >> people knew and they covered his tracks?

    >> exactly.

    >> you were meeting with him how often?

    >> it just varied. it was a long-distance relationship. so sometimes once a month. sometimes twice, sometimes not at all. it just depends on what was happening.

    >> you said this relationship kept going on for about two and a half years. more of a friendship. when was the last time you heard from him?

    >> in september.

    >> and what was he asking of you then?

    >> to meet him somewhere. if i would join him in a few places.

    >> even though you hadn't been with him in about two years?

    >> he's always done that for the last two years. he's constantly --

    >> pursuing you?

    >> uh-huh.

    >> what's the enticement? or what is he telling you? what's he offering you?

    >> do you miss me, i miss you. would you like to come and see me?

    >> and he's telling this to like seven or eight other women?

    >> yeah. and i think, you know, i'm sure he did the same thing with everyone. i've been listening to the reports and i see these girls talking and it seems like a pattern. he knew it was clearly --

    >> do you feel you're different from all the others?

    >> i would like to think so. you know i --

    >> how are you different?

    >> i wasn't looking to get anything out of this relationship. i wasn't saving every message and hanging on every word that he said. i did walk away from this. i made a moral decision that that this was not right. and i would like to think i'm not the party girl that they're claim that i am. i do go out with my goifrs agirlfriends and have fun. and i'm not judging them by any means. i'm not putting anybody down. i'm a stay at home mom and i've worked hard and i try to set the right example for my son.

    >> has this been hard for you and your son?

    >> yeah.

    >> what is your son hearing?

    >> well some of the horrible things you know. he has to face a lot of, he's suffered a lot of consequences from this. and i've had to explain to him -- the mistakes that i've made. so it has been very tough. you know and my family as well. i don't think anybody wants to see their daughter or granddaughter in this situation. so --

    >> do you feel that you're to blame for that?

    >> yeah.

    >> has your son faced questions from classmates at school?

    >> yeah. you know and teachers. i think the school's been great. they've been protecting him. and you know i have to tell him the truth to some sense that i think i've done a really good job at that.

    >> what about elin? how do you imagine she's feeling?

    >> i can't imagine the pain that she's feeling right now. from all this.

    >> did you think about that, though, when you started this relationship?

    >> i did not. i was being selfish. i thought like, what is in this for me? i was caught up in it. he -- has a way to make you believe that he's a very honest and good man. and i'm not saying that he is not a good man. i don't think he's an honest man. but -- i didn't think about her at that time. i just believed what he was telling me.

    >> and now, do you think about her a lot?

    >> i do. i'm very sorry. and i hate that you know, someone has to suffer the consequences of my actions. and her children, i'm a mom, so -- i can only imagine.

    >> if you had the opportunity to sit down with her, and talk with her, is there anything you would like to say?

    >> just that i'm sorry. you know, what can you say at this point. i mean -- she's obviously having to be very strong right now in and dealing with a lot. and i am deeply sorry and i wish i could take it back. this is one of those situations where i'm definitely learning from my mistakes.

    >> well, corey wrist, we appreciate you telling us your story. thank you very much.

    >> we'll be back right after

By
TODAY contributor
updated 12/14/2009 9:49:48 AM ET 2009-12-14T14:49:48

At first, it was just a fling with a famous man who said his marriage was falling apart. But by the time she finally broke off her affair with Tiger Woods, Cori Rist said she had come to feel remorse for the suffering she caused Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren.

“I’m sorry for her pain. I hate that I’m a part of it,” the 31-year-old Rist told TODAY Monday.  “I had no idea it would be like this. I can only imagine the pain she’s feeling now, and I’m sorry.”

‘Tiger would like to meet you’
Sorrow wasn’t on the menu in June 2006, when Rist happened to be at the same New York nightclub as Woods. The former model, who says she’s now a stay-at-home single mom for her 7-year-old son, said a member of Woods’ party came up to her in the club.

“A guy just approached me and said, ‘Tiger Woods would like to meet you, and would you like to join us for a drink?’ At the time there was nowhere else to sit, so we went over. He immediately told me a joke, broke the ice. It was very comfortable. He was funny, polite, and that just started the evening.”

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The party then moved on to a private house, and Rist said she moved along with it. For the next six months, she said, she and Woods had regular trysts in New York, sometimes at private residences, sometimes at hotels.

“It was a long-distance relationship,” Rist told TODAY’s Natalie Morales. “Sometimes once a month, sometimes twice, sometimes not at all.”

Rist said she decided to end it when she saw a picture of Woods, his wife, Elin, and their new daughter, Sam, and realized what she was doing.

“We were pretty much involved in a relationship, and then I decided that I didn’t want to be part of it anymore, and I broke things off with him six months later after I met him,” Rist said. But Woods wouldn’t be deterred: “He kept pursuing me for the next two and a half years, and we saw each other, but less often. During the first six months, I’d see him twice a month.”

‘I made a mistake’
Rist said when she first met Woods, she knew he was married, but believed him when he said the marriage was on the rocks.

Video: Woods’ alleged mistress: ‘Together forever’ “I understood that things were very difficult at home, not what we thought they were on TV,” she said. “According to him, things were rough and they were going to separate. He said, ‘We’re on the outs,’ but she was pregnant, and they had to get through that.”

Rist denied published reports in The New York Daily News that she was a high-priced escort at the time, and said that she never received money from Woods. Rist said she was going public to set the record straight.

“I felt it was necessary to defend myself because I’m hearing negative reports; they’re not true,” Rist told TODAY. “I’m not an escort, he has not paid me, I’m a mother. At the end of the day, I made a mistake, but I’m not what they’re claiming that I am. So I will defend myself because I have no other choice.”

She broke down when she told Morales how the published reports about her have affected her son and her family. She brushed away tears as she said her son has had to hear “horrible things” about his mother.

Video: Alleged mistress: Woods never gave me money “He has to suffer a lot of consequences from this,” Rist told Morales. “I’ve had to explain to him the mistakes I’ve made. It’s been tough — on my family as well.”

Rist brings the total number of women linked to the world’s most famous golfer to more than a dozen. TODAY asked Rist how Woods managed to keep his affairs secret for so long in a tabloid-driven media environment.

“He was good. He had people doing things for him,” she said. “A lot of people would book his itineraries for myself, he’d get me a second room, we’d have a conjoined door and that was it. It was under an alias name ... He would just tell me, ‘This is your room number, it’s under this name.’ I’d go to my room, he’d open the middle door, and we’d have two rooms.”

Double life
In a separate interview with Matt Lauer, Gerald Posner, chief investigative reporter for the Web site The Daily Beast, said that Woods kept his affairs secret even from his business manager, Mark Steinberg, and other advisers. Instead, he said, some old personal friends of Woods managed that part of his life. They bought tickets for Woods’ women, assigned them aliases, reserved the hotel rooms.

Video: Can Tiger Woods’ marriage be saved? “There was a handful of old-time personal friends of Tiger who ran the extramarital affairs for him,” Posner told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “On the other hand were the business advisers; Mark Steinberg, his agent, who are really in many ways furious because they got caught flat-footed, and especially shocked at the trail of reckless evidence. They’re shocked also at the number of affairs.”

Whenever there was the threat of a leak, Posner said, Woods turned to a Hollywood law firm that specialized in taking on the tabloids. Posner said that two years ago, a tabloid got hold of grainy pictures that purportedly showed Woods with a woman in his Escalade. The law firm successfully quashed the story, he said.

Slideshow: Tiger and family But when club hostess Rachel Uchitel was linked to Woods in the taboid National Enquirer, Woods’ carefully crafted image and seemingly perfect life started unraveling, beginning with last month’s infamous low-speed crash in his Escalade in front of his house. After stonewalling the media, the 33-year-old Woods was ultimately forced to admit his infidelity and to take an indefinite leave of absence from golf.

Financial impact
While his biggest sponsor, Nike, has stood by him, Woods’ annual take of $100 million in endorsement income has already taken a hit. Pepsi was set to cut back on his personal Gatorade brand before the scandal broke. Then Accenture dropped him as a corporate spokesman, and Gillette announced that it was backing off its relationship with him.

Posner said that Woods has offered Uchitel $5 million paid over several years to maintain her silence. That is also the amount he reportedly offered his wife in an attempt to keep his marriage together. Woods and Nordegren have two children: daughter Sam, 2, and son Charlie, 10 months.

Rist said that she always suspected that Woods had other women besides herself.

“I would wake up sometimes in the night in hotels with him and hear him text messaging,” she said. “I’d lay there and realized he would be having a conversation, so I suspected there were others.”

But she never suspected how many others there were.

“I don’t know how he had the time to have so many women in his life,” Rist said.

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