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When Good Sports Go Bad

Professional athletes get paid a lot. According to USA Today, the average salary of a New York Giant was $923,000 in 2009 compared to $475,100 in 2000. Total payroll for that franchise was $51 million in 2000. By 2009 it had almost tripled. Where does all that money come from? As professional sports becomes more about the money and an increasingly expensive form of broadcast entertainment with salaries ridiculously inflated, corporate sponsorships become necessary to infuse cash into the equation. These multi-million dollar endorsement deals have been increasing yearly by a rate of 17% and have become a very popular way for large corporations to market themselves and gain exposure. The sheer numbers are astronomical.
But what happens when the golf legend and role model to millions, endorser of cars, watches, breakfast cereal, gold cards, athletic shoes, sports drinks etc. etc. becomes a social outcast causing his corporate buddies to run for the nineteenth hole? What is the price when an athlete such as Tiger Woods commits a faux pas or a little marital indecency?
Katerina Thanou was a Greek sprinter and poster child for the 2004 Olympic games in Athens. Representing Adidas in their global “Impossible is Nothing Campaign,” there were billboards of the athlete plastered all over Greece. Unfortunately, for the shoe company, she got caught up in a drug scandal the night before her race and the connotations of the campaign took a nasty turn.
Kobe Bryant’s tangle with a 19 year old woman who accused him of sexual assault reportedly cost him between four and six million dollars when Nutella, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola pulled the plug on his Endorsements.
Hertz couldn’t run away fast enough from its spokesperson, the former NFL running back, O.J. Simpson after being accused of murder.
Magic Johnson’s unfortunate health status caused him to lose all of his $12 million endorsement deals when it became known that he contracted HIV while cheating on his wife.
Michael Vick’s dog fighting charges took a bite out of his $50 million dollar endorsement deals with Nike and others.