Billionaire coal executive Chris Cline passed away this week in a tragic helicopter accident, but many were left scratching their heads over his past relationship with Elin Nordegren. After her divorce from Tiger Woods, Cline was Nordegren's first serious romance, yet they kept their tryst out of the public eye.
Cline was back in the public eye in recent months as fans learned about Nordegren's third pregnancy. Some expected to find that the couple had quietly gotten back together, and that Cline might be the father. It turns out that that is not the case, yet it made things that much more eerie when word of Cline's death began to circulate.
Cline made his fortune in the coal mining industry, with a privately held firm that helped to mine the Appalachian hills. He was a billionaire, known for making large political contributions, including some to the presidential campaigns of Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.
Cline passed away on Thursday, July 4, just one day before his 61st birthday. Among the many people touched by his life and work were Nordegren. Here is everything we know about their relationship.
For starters, here is a refresher on where Nordegren stood when she began to see Cline. The young model went through a brutal cheating scandal and divorce with her ex, legendary golfer Tiger Woods. The two first met in 2001, and married in 2004. They had a daughter in 2007, and then a son in 2009.
Around the same time, salacious stories of Woods' infidelity began to circulate. It was revealed that the golfer was juggling many extramarital affairs, which were reported on in grizzly detail. More than a dozen women claimed to have had affairs with Woods, and a suggestive voicemail was even published.
Woods lost endorsement deals and public trust, while Nordegren was humiliated. Woods entered treatment for sex addiction, and Nordegren filed for divorce. It was finalized in 2010.
From here, the dates get harder to pin down precisely. Nordegren began dating Cline sometime in 2011, according to a report by PEOPLE. Their relationship was never the media circus that her marriage to Woods had been, likely by design.
“Chris and I, since we’ve been close, have decided not to talk about [it],” Nordegren told the outlet, adding: "I'm happy."
The two mostly made headlines for big, extravagant trips. They went to Haiti together in 2012 on a church mission, sparking a long career in charity and volunteer work for Nordegren.
The couple broke up in 2014, according to media reports at the time. According to Page Six, the breakup was not hostile, they simply "drifted apart."
Most sources agree that the romance between Nordegren and Cline began when she bought a massive $12 million home in Florida, right next door to Cline. Nordegren had the mansion on her property completely demolished to make way for a new one, but it sounds like her neighbor did not mind.
Cline had other properties too, including a ranch in West Virginia and a 164-foot yacht called Mine Games, which was equipped with its own submarine. Over time, he reportedly traveled with Nordegren to her home in Sweden, where he met with her family.
Things went well for Nordegren and Cline while they were together. One report by Page Six even claims that they went on a double date with Tiger Woods and his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn at the time.
“I have moved on and I am in a good place... My relationship with Tiger is centered around our children and we are doing really good — we really are — and I am so happy that is the case. He is a great father,” Nordegren said at the time.
Cline was best-known for his massive wealth, and the controversial industry in which he made it. As of March, Forbes estimated his fortune at $1.8 billion, accounting for his property and his holdings. Cline's coal company, Foresight Energy, went public in 2014. He sold his controlling stake in 2015 for $1.4 billion.
Cline came from a family of coal miners going back generations. His grandfather worked in a West Virginia coal mine, and Cline's father reportedly urged him to do the same.
Cline took it one step further, founding Foresight Reserves LP. He was crowned the "New King Coal" by Bloomberg, and held single-handedly responsible for reviving the industry in Illinois. He also mined extensively in the Appalachian Mountains.
Cline defended coal amid rising concerns about climate change through his lifetime. In 2010, he gave an interview with Bloomberg on the subject.
"As far as the social acceptability of coal, I like to think I’m part of supplying the cheapest energy in America," he said.
Of course, another huge factor in Nordegren and Cline's relationship was their age gap. Cline was a full 20 years older than Nordegren, going through his early 50s during their relationship while she was in her 30s. This led to many assumptions about their relationship, though the two always spoke about each other with genuine warmth in public.
Nordegren and Cline were as private about their breakup as they were about their romance in 2014. At the time, sources told Page Six that Nordegren flew off to the Hamptons to process her feelings, where she was seen “going to the beach, shopping and going to restaurants with her girlfriends.”
“They didn’t spend enough time together. He has a thriving business and has been traveling a lot," sources said of the split.
Last month, fans were treated to the surprising news that Nordegren is pregnant with her third child. The former model was spotted with a baby bump at her son's football game, prompting the announcement of a new baby in the family.
Many fans assumed that Cline was the father, as he was Nordegren's only well-known romance after Woods. However, it soon came to light that Nordegren was seeing NFL player Jordan Cameron, who is in fact the father.
Meanwhile, just weeks after re-entering the headlines alongside Nordegren, Cline passed away in a tragic helicopter accident. Cline was on board the aircraft with his daughter and five other people, two miles away from his private island in the Bahamas.
The crash came just a day before Cline's birthday, and left the world reeling in shock. Cline is survived by three other children, as well as one ex-wife.
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