Following the news that Nike have severed ties with Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao, we take a look at 10 other athletes who have been abandoned by their sponsors.
1. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods’ very public fall from grace in 2009 certainly ended up having far-reaching implications, not only for Woods himself, but the entire sporting endorsement landscape.
The 14-time major champion was dropped by Gillette, Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and Tag Heuer following the revelations that he cheated on wife Elin Nordegren with multiple women – slashing his net worth – and the sensational scandal prompted sponsors to beef up the morals clauses in their athlete contracts.
Nike stuck by Woods throughout – although in 2009 he was still at the top of his game. Had the incident happened after his dip in form, it might well have been a different story.
2. Oscar Pistorius
It’s no surprise that the sponsors headed for the hills after Oscar Pistorius admitted to shooting and killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, alleging that he mistook her for an intruder.
One public and lengthy trial – and a subsequent appeal – later and Pistorius was found guilty of murder.
Nike, Oakley, Clarins and BT were just some of the companies to drop the tarnished Paralympian, who had once been seen as a hero and an example of triumph over adversity.
3. Lance Armstrong
Cyclist Lance Armstrong fell from grace in 2012 after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive report detailing allegations of widespread doping by Armstrong and his cycling team during the time he won seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005.
As often happens, the sponsors hung around for a little while, but finally severed ties when the evidence became insurmountable.
Nike, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Trek Bicycle Corp, FRS and Honey Stinger all cut Armstrong loose, while the Texan was also stripped of all seven of his Tour titles.
4. Michael Vick
NFL stars are no stranger to controversy, with more than a fair share of high-profile players finding themselves in hot water.
Vick’s rap sheet – assault, child abuse and dog-fighting – make for particularly nasty reading, so it’s no surprise that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback lost endorsements with Nike, Reebok, Rawlings, Donruss, Upper Deck and AirTran Airways.
Vick subsequently returned to the NFL after serving prison time, and Nike – the bastions of virtue that they are – also welcomed him back with a new contract, saying the athlete had paid the price for past mistakes.
5. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson’s problems started even before he was found guilty of raping an 18-year-old in 1992, serving three years in jail.
The heavyweight champion had already been dropped by Pepsi in 1998 after his former wife Robin Givens said that he abused her, but he would also go on to lose lucrative endorsements from Eastman Kodak and Nintendo, among others, costing him as much as $8 to $10 million in a single year.
6. Wayne Rooney
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney didn’t pay as big a price as some athletes when he allegedly cheated on his pregnant wife with prostitutes, but he did lose Coca-Cola as a sponsor – even though they waited until their contract with him expired, choosing not to renew it.
Rooney also lost a deal with Asian beer brand Tiger to do commercials, though Nike and EA Sports hung around.
7. Kobe Bryant
Back in 2003, LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel employee. He admitted to an adulterous sexual encounter, but denied assaulting her. The matter was settled out of court and Bryant publicly apologized to his accuser.
Only fast food chain McDonalds and Italian chocolate maker Ferrero SpA ultimately dropped Kobe – while Nike and Sprite hung around.
Within a few years, it was as if the incident never happened, with Bryant signing lucrative deals with the likes of Lenovo and Turkish Airlines.
8. Ray Rice
Being accused of abuse is one thing, but having graphic video of the deed is quite another.
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s reputation was left in tatters after footage emerged of him punching his fiance and dragging her unconscious body out of a casino elevator back in 2014.
Not even Nike wanted any of that action. They dropped Rice like a hot potato – as did Dick’s Sporting Goods, Modell’s and EA Sports. Number of companies currently sponsoring Rice: 0.
9. Barry Bonds
As the man at the center of baseball’s massive steroids scandal in 2007, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants home run king Barry Bonds had to pay a big price for his indiscretions.
Bonds was dropped by MasterCard, KFC and Charles Schwab – costing him an estimated $28 million a year in contracts.
10. Michael Phelps
Former Olympic champion Michael Phelps has been more resistant to scandal than most.
The owner of the most Olympic gold medals in history only lost his sponsorship with Kellogg’s after a photo emerged in 2008 of him smoking a bong at a party.
Not even two subsequent DUI convictions (driving under the influence of alcohol) could stick to the swimmer.
The likes of Nike, Speedo, Visa, Omega watches and Subway have all stood by him.