Tiffany Michelle Official Statement – Thursday, July 17, 2008
It is with great sadness that I’ve had to see my accomplishment of finishing 17th in the WSOP Main Event clouded by slanderous accusations and inaccurate information. I have been humbled by the overwhelming support from friends, fans and the media and for their sake as well as mine I feel as if I must respond and bring clarity to the situation.
There is no denying the positive press and exposure I brought Pokernews by wearing their logo and being their representative during the 2008 World Series of Poker main event. After such a successful series, I am greatly dismayed by Pokernews’ subsequent actions. No one has ever questioned my integrity before this and I am so distressed that Pokernews is using their powerful public forum to spin such a negative recounting of the facts of what occurred during the final two days of the main event.
As we all know, it is standard practice for players to wear multiple logos during the main event. Pokernews was aware of this, having placed their logos on a number of players with sponsorship deals with other companies. Throughout the World Series I saw several players wear the Pokernews logo alongside the logos of online card rooms such as Pokerstars and T6. This makes it very clear that Pokernews supported this practice as a rule and were not against players wearing their logo in conjunction with the logo of an online card room. Like many other people, I wore multiple logos but in no way diminished the presence of Pokernews in doing so.
Unfortunately in this instance, Pokernews suddenly felt that I was in violation of my backing deal by wearing another logo. I have a written contract that has been reviewed by legal counsel – and it is very clearly a non-exclusive contract meaning that while I was expected to wear the Pokernews logo – I was in no way prevented from wearing any other logo. Furthermore Pokernews did not possess any power to make, advise or negotiate any kind of logo or sponsorship deal that came about via my playing the main event. In light of recent allegations by Pokernews, I have had this contract reviewed again by legal counsel to reconfirm my stance – that I in no way was in violation. It was never even said to me verbally until after the fact that there was an expectation of exclusivity. Even in my previous dealings with Pokernews, as their On-Camera Host I have made a point to never agree to any kind of exclusivity with their company as advised by my talent manager. The first I heard of Pokernews’ disapproval to me wearing the UB logo was after I already had it on and was playing on the featured table.
It was unfortunate that while I was working hard to try to win the main event (and in so doing help to further promote Pokernews) I was chastised by Pokernews representatives at all hours of the day and night for wearing a second logo. Despite my repeated requests that they go through my manager and let me just concentrate on playing, they insisted on contacting me directly, greatly upsetting me during the most important weekend of my life. These representatives of Pokernews kept repeatedly telling me they had nothing but ‘my best interests at heart’ yet I felt bombarded by several parties trying to control my decisions and pressure my actions.
A fact that is known to Pokernews is that I was approached by many online poker sites wanting me to represent them during the last few days of the event; however I chose to work with UltimateBet. Tony G even quotes in his BLOG "I had been working on putting a deal together for Tiff with PokerStars and they had just emailed me. I knew Tiff could become a huge star and I was going to allow her to do a deal that would protect Pokernews also for the main event". The fact that Pokernews was willing to work with PokerStars on a joint deal says it all – the contract was NONEXCLUSIVE.
I am a grown woman and I can decide for myself who I choose to associate myself with. That should not be Tony G’s decision. Just because Tony G. backed me in the event (and profited quite nicely by doing so) does not mean that he should be able to control or profit from any logo or sponsorship deal I might make or have any say in how I handle my career. I have been around poker a long time and it’s widely known that a backer has no say or cut of a player’s sponsorship or logo deal. Again, I had seen several Pokernews sponsored players wearing online card room logos already so clearly the backing deal and the logo deals were separate for every other player wearing Pokernews. Why would it be different just for me?
In the end, I completely stand by my decision and I feel that UltimateBet was the one site that treated me with the respect and dignity deserving of someone in my stressful situation. Throughout the whole event they were insistent on wanting me to just concentrate on my play and were clear that the decision in the end was mine and I should do what I felt was best for me.
It is unfortunate that Pokernews has taken the step of publicly accusing me of breaching their contract when I have been scrupulous in fulfilling my obligations. I have always felt that disputes like this should be handled privately and in this case using such a broad reaching platform to air such a dispute seems really inappropriate to me. Still, I want to say how much I appreciate the opportunities that Pokernews has given me. I am deeply grateful to Jeff Lisandro and Tony G for backing me in the event and giving me this opportunity to play in the most exciting event of my life.