Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

Dumped: When sponsors cut ties to stars

By Agence France-Presse Published Oct 26, 2022 6:47 am

Controversial rapper Kanye West, dropped by German sportswear giant Adidas over a series of anti-Semitic outbursts, is not the first superstar to be dumped by sponsors.

From golfing legend Tiger Woods to model Kate Moss, from time to time the famous fall afoul of the businesses they are associated with. 

Here are some well-known cases:

Oscar Pistorius

The lucrative sporting career of the "Blade Runner", South African paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, collapsed in 2013 after he was charged, and later convicted of killing his girlfriend, South African model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day.

All of his major sponsors cancelled his contracts, including Nike, BT, Thierry Mugler, Oakley, and Ossur.

Pistorius, who claimed he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder, was initially cleared of murder but later convicted on appeal and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Tiger Woods

Sponsors fled from supposedly squeaky clean golf superstar Tiger Woods in 2010 in the wake of revelations that he had cheated on then-wife Elin Nordegren with multiple women.

Woods apologised on live television, saying success had gone to his head.

The scandal cost him endorsement deals with Tag Heuer, Gillette, Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade as well as his marriage. Nike stuck with the former world number one, however, allowing him to remain the best paid sportsman in the world.

Lance Armstrong

Nike was criticised for continuing to officially support disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong in 2012 immediately after the publication of a US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report showing damning evidence of doping involving him and his team.

It then dropped him a few days later and he was then banned from cycling for life.

He also lost contracts with bicycle brand Trek and brewer Anheuser-Busch, leaving him out millions.

Michael Phelps

Cereals giant Kellogg's decided not to renew a partnership with record-breaking Olympic champion Michael Phelps after he was suspended for three months in 2009 by USA Swimming after a published photograph appeared to show him smoking marijuana.

Many sponsors, however, stood by him, including apparel manufacturer Speedo and watchmaker Omega.

Sharon Stone

The "Basic Instinct" star caused a furore in 2008 when she claimed that a massive earthquake in southwest China, which left nearly 88,000 people dead or missing, was bad "karma" for Beijing's treatment of Tibet.

Stone was referring to a crackdown earlier in Tibet on protests against Chinese rule. Her remark sparked uproar in China, prompting Christian Dior fashion house to drop her from its local skincare ads. Stone apologised.

Kate Moss

British supermodel Kate Moss was cancelled by a slew of sponsors in 2005 after a British tabloid ran grainy pictures appearing to show her snorting cocaine.

The incident took place at a London recording studio where Moss's then lover, musician and self-confessed drug addict Pete Doherty was recording tracks with his band Babyshambles.

Global fashion retailer H&M, French fashion house Chanel, Britain's Burberry and cosmetics company Rimmel all dumped her but after a few years she had again built up a stable of sponsors, including Mango and Versace.

Whoopi Goldberg

The US actress paid dearly for making a joke about president George W. Bush's name that involved female genitalia at a Democratic fundraiser in 2004.

Anglo-Dutch food group Unilever promptly dropped Goldberg from its campaign for a food supplement, saying she had offended consumers.


In 1989, Pepsi canned an expensive ad featuring Madonna and her hit "Like a Prayer" over complaints and boycott threats related to religious imagery and eroticism in the song's official video.

In the video, a scantily-clad Madonna, then 30, dances in front of burning crosses, writhes on the floor of a church and kisses a black Jesus who comes to life. The outrage was felt as far away as Rome, where the Vatican condemned it.