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Just don't do it. Nike’s not-so-tick-worthy endorsements

The latest offender to have their Nike sponsorship pulled is Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova.

FILE: US sprinter Marion Jones celebrates after completing her first 100m race in nine months and winning with a modest time of 11.28 seconds at Grand Prix II track and field meeting in 2005 in Fort-de-France. Picture: AFP
Oscar Pistorius,Tiger Woods,Maria Sharapova,Manny Pacquiao,Nike,Ray Rice,Marion Jones
Sport Lifestyle

JOHANNESBURG - Finding the right sports star to endorse your brand can be a tricky ballgame, especially if you’re the world's largest sports shoe and apparel maker.

Nike appears to have particularly bad luck when it comes to endorsements and has a long history of endorsing sportsmen and women who have gone on to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

MARIA SHARAPOVA

The latest casualty to have their Nike sponsorship pulled is Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova who on Monday announced she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open.

Nike said it was suspending ties while the case was being investigated.

The world’s highest paid female athlete was informed by the International Tennis Federation that she tested positive for Meldonium, which was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances on 1 January. 

FILE: Maria Sharapova attends the Nike Tennis Primetime Knockout event in August 2010 in New York City. Picture: AFP.
FILE: Maria Sharapova attends the Nike Tennis Primetime Knockout event in August 2010 in New York City. Picture: AFP.

MANNY PACQUIAO

It’s a case of second time unlucky for Nike and its sponsorship of boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Nike in February announced that it would drop him after his comments that same-sex relationships were “worse than animals”.

It is not the first time the gloves have come off between Nike and Pacquiao, with it previously dropping him in 2012 for making similar comments about same-sex marriage.

OSCAR PISTORIUS

Pinning your brand to a sports star can be very risky business, as Nike learnt with athlete-turned-murderer Oscar Pistorius.

Nike stumped its sponsorship with the ‘Blade Runner’ shortly after he gunned down his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria mansion on 14 February 2013.

At the time, ironically, Nike had an advertising campaign with Pistorius reading: “I am the bullet in the chamber.”

The Nike advert featuring Oscar Pistorius.

The sports apparel company eventually had to bite the bullet and distance itself from the Paralympian.

LANCE ARMSTRONG

Nike was left in a spin when one of the greatest cyclists of all time was charged with using performing-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong’s career was littered with allegations of doping for many years, but this didn’t stop Nike from sponsoring the cyclist.


Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

It was a bitter pill to swallow but Nike eventually severed ties with the disgraced multiple Tour-de-France winner.

TIGER WOODS

The world’s highest earning sportsman Tiger Woods got dropped by many of his sponsors in November 2009 following revelations that he had affairs with numerous women.

Tiger got out of the woods relatively unscathed with one sponsor, Nike, who never ditched him.

Tiger Woods of the United States reacts on the 18th green during the first round of the 115th US Open Championship at Chambers Bay on 18 June, 2015 in University Place, Washington. Picture: AFP.
Tiger Woods during the first round of the 115th US Open Championship in June 2015. Picture: AFP.

Woods eventually managed to rebuild his image, although not his whirlwind career.

MARION JONES

Nike was in quite a sweat, OK maybe just a little, when it was revealed American sprinter Marion Jones tested positive for a boosting agent.

In 2007, the runner admitted to lying to federal agents about using drugs and spent a year in jail the following year.

FILE: US sprinter Marion Jones celebrates after completing her first 100m race in nine months and winning with a modest time of 11.28 seconds at Grand Prix II track and field meeting in 2005 in Fort-de-France. Picture: AFP
US sprinter Marion Jones celebrates after completing her first 100m race in nine months and winning with a modest time of 11.28 seconds at Grand Prix II track and field meeting in 2005 in Fort-de-France. Picture: AFP.

Jones was not immediately dropped but her contract was not renewed in 2005.

MICHAEL VICK

Once the highest paid American footballer, Michael Vick was slapped with an 18-month prison sentence in 2007 for bankrolling dogfights.

It was however a case of all bark and no bite. Nike gave Vick the boot when he was sentenced, only to re-sign him once he got out of jail.

RAY RICE

American footballer Ray Rice again showed Nike why sponsoring a sportsman can be a gamble. This after footage emerged showing him punching his then fiancée Janay Palmer in the head in a casino elevator. Nike then told Rice to beat it.

Janay Rice, sits next to her husband Ray, at a press conference on 9 September 2014. Picture: Facebook.
Janay and Ray Rice at a press conference in September 2014. 

 

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