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Tiger Woods

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Why do people as famous as Tiger Woods think they can get away with cheating? Let's face it: If you're that famous and you have an affair with so many women, someone's talking eventually!
—L.M. McAvoy, via Facebook

Unless there's hush money involved.

Given the growing number of women on Tiger Woods' scorecard, and the increasingly tall pile of reports involving obscenely high possible payoffs to them, the real question isn't a why...it's a how.

After all, if there's one disappointing lesson the Letterman case has taught us, it's that you can't just walk up to a star and tell him to give you money to shut up. That's extortion, and it's illegal, and the law is mean.

According to people who have actually dealt with celebrity affairs and their clampdowns, the shutting up process betweens stars and their trysts is a lot more complex then you might think...

...and that's just because it's so easy to get sent to jail.

Like I said, if any of Tiger's eleven billion women, were to just call him up and demand $1 million for their silence, they could be reported to police. In fact, one lawyer told me, that's exactly what he'd advise Tiger to do.

"It could have the effect of casting a bad light on all of the women coming forward," and that would mean good PR for Tiger, criminal defense attorney Peter Berlin explains.

So then, suppose one is a member of Tiger's ambush of young ladies (that's an actual term, not a judgment) and one would like a large pimp wad of cash for remaining out of the E! Online daily news budget. How does one do that without committing extortion?

Step one: Get a lawyer who knows some fancy talk.

"Most lawyers won't be stupid enough to approach a star's lawyer and say, 'Pay us this or my client goes public'," Berlin says. "A lawyer might instead approach the star and say, 'How can we resolve this situation?'"

Or the lawyer might couch the demand in terms of a potential lawsuit.

"If you're clever, you are able to construct some sort of a claim, like emotional distress," says Larry Stein of the law firm Liner Grode Stein. "And then you say, 'My client has a claim against your client for some wrongful conduct, and if you want to settle this case first, we'll talk, otherwise we're going to have to bring action and it will be picked up by the media'."

And now you know why even the unidentified playthings are lawyering up.

Got it? Good. Now comes the money part.

Apparently there is no going rate, though a million to the lady who could do the most damage to Woods' endorsement deals isn't out of the realm of imagination for my legal panel. In exchange, the lady must usually sign some sort of document saying she'll shut up or open herself up to a lawsuit.

But what you may not know is that those things are largely viewed as unenforceable. Why? Even if the ladies sign a statement saying they won't talk, there isn't much incentive to sue them if they do. Most, while rich in storytelling skills, are comparably poor in actual assets so there isn't much that can stop them from chatting into a microphone should they need some spare cash.

So then why do so many illicit Hollywood hookups stay quiet? Another little trick by a good lawyer.

"Sometimes the payments are made over a period of time," Stein reveals. "That way you can keep them from coming forward for a while, until a story dies down or gets stale."

And even I am starting to tire of this Tiger tale. How long until this one gets stale?