On March 1st, Powerade proudly revealed it had tapped Ja Morant to serve as the face of a new ad campaign after signing the Grizzlies superstar to what was undoubtedly a fairly lucrative multi-year endorsement deal.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to think of any other announcements that managed to age so poorly in such a short amount of time.
The Washington Post wasted no time raining all over Powerade’s parade when it published an article detailing a police report that was filed in Memphis after Morant allegedly (and repeatedly) punched a 17-year-old who’d been playing basketball at his house.
A few days later, Morant once again ended up back in the news for all of the wrong reasons when he pulled out a gun on Instagram Live, which resulted in the Grizzlies handing him a two-game suspension that seems poised to last longer than originally announced.
Earlier this week, Powerade quietly distanced itself from the high-flying guard after taking down the commercial in question and scrubbing all mentions and images of Morant from its website, which appears to have brought an end to a marketing campaign the brand had reportedly planned to devote $10 million to in ad buys alone.
There’s no way to know exactly how much Morant was poised to earn from that sponsorship, but it seems like he has likely missed out on a very hefty payday based on what’s transpired over the past week or so (for what it’s worth, Nike has reaffirmed its commitment to one of the bigger names on its current roster).
With that said, it’s hard to imagine Morant fumbled the bag to the same degree as a few other athletes who managed to lose a staggering amount of money due to some missteps of their own.
The athletes who lost the most money due to the scandals that cost them major endorsement deals
Maria Sharapova was one of the most marketable tennis players on the planet in her prime, but things quickly came crashing down after she tested positive for a banned substance called meldonium at the Australian Open in 2016.
The Russian star claimed she was unaware her physician had been prescribing her the drug (which had been legal prior to that year), but she was nonetheless hit with a two-year suspension that was eventually reduced to 15 months.
That hiatus came at quite a cost, as she was dropped by a number of sponsors who were understandably uninterested in spending money on someone who was barred from stepping onto the tennis court.
After the news broke, Porsche, TAG Heuer, American Express, and Avon all announced they were severing ties with Sharapova. Nike initially suspended the eight-year, $70 million deal she had signed in 2010 before reversing course after she apologized, and both Evian and HEAD agreed to stick with her.
While there’s no way to know exactly how much she lost when everything was said and done, Sharapova had reportedly earned more than $22 million thanks to endorsement deals alone over the course of 2015.
As a result, it’s safe to assume she lost out on a very significant portion of that amount in the wake of her suspension.
In 1997, Tiger Woods started his ascension to the top of the golf world and sparked a reign of dominance that saw him transform into one of the most famous athletes on the planet.
It honestly seemed like there was no way Tiger would ever be removed from the throne he remained on for over a decade, but in 2009, he experienced a drastic fall from grace following the car crash stemming from the domestic dispute that led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren.
A number of high-profile sponsors also opted to divorce themselves from Tiger, as Gatorade, Buick, Gillette, Accenture, and AT&T all announced their decision to sever ties (Nike and EA Sports both announced they’d be to sticking with him).
While estimates vary, it is believed Woods cost himself at least $22 million in endorsement deals and as much as $50 million as a result of that incident.
It was virtually impossible not to root for Lance Armstong, the cyclist who beat cancer before becoming an international phenomenon by winning the Tour de France seven times in a row between 1999 and 2005.
However, that Cinderella story was irreparably tarnished in 2012 when the United States Anti-Doping Agency published a report that implicated Armstrong in the massive scandal that resulted in him receiving a lifetime ban and saw the International Cycling Union strip all of his titles.
Armstrong’s many sponsors wasted zero time kicking their former golden boy to the curb.
When the news broke, Trek, Giro, 24-Hour Fitness, Nike, Anheuser-Busch, RadioShack, Oakley, Honey Stinger, and FRS immediately cut ties with Armstrong, who ultimately lost out on an estimated $150 million in endorsement deals when everything was said and done.