In today’s day and age, being a celebrity isn’t really a big deal. There are tons of celebs out there, some of which are just famous for being famous, some have achieved celebrity status after appearing on a TV show once or twice, and some are famous for wearing risqué outfits and flaunting their bodies in front of the cameras. Of course, there are those who are also, what many people would deem to be, major celebs, real celebs who have actually done something noteworthy. It’s one thing to achieve this celebrity status, but it’s another to actually make a living out of being a celeb.
Being famous doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be wealth and have cash falling into your lap for the rest of your days. Many rely on the money they earn through their craft, but most celebs acquire a substantial amount of wealth through endorsements and sponsorship deals. It’s actually what a lot of celebs strive to achieve – become so good at whatever they’re known for, that companies are willing to pay them huge sums of cash for them to endorse their products or services. For people in certain professions, they need sponsorship money to be able to do what they do for a living. Take Olympic athletes for example; a lot get paid pittance, but are able to dedicate themselves to their craft because of the money they make through sponsors. So, when things go south, when companies, for whatever reason, choose to revoke these deals, it can leave those individuals financially destitute, or at least a lot worse off.
Even for those celebs who are raking it in, losing sponsors is a big deal, and definitely still affects their finances. These are 15 celebs who have lost a ton of cash through revoked sponsorship deals – it affected some more than others.
15 Charlize Theron - Dropped Over Wearing Watches
In today’s day and age, who on earth would dream of dropping Charlize Theron from being the face of their company? She’s established herself as a Hollywood megastar, one of the hottest women in the industry. Use her to advertise products and services, and you can bet your bottom dollar people are going to be taking out their wallets and buying up whatever it is she’s advertising.
Even a decade ago, back in 2007, Charlize was a pretty big deal. Raymond Weil watches was one of those fortunate companies that managed to get her on board, but their relationship with her ended in a massive fallout. Understandably, one of the contract clauses was that Charlize was only allowed to wear their luxury watches, but she was spotted wearing watches by Christian Dior and Montblanc. She was forced to settle a $20m lawsuit that was filed by Raymond Weil watches, and was of course, dropped by the company.
14 Oscar Pistorius - Murder Cost Him Millions
The disgraced former Paralympic athlete only has himself to blame for his career going down the drain, and for all those people, all those sponsors that distanced themselves and cut all ties with him. You can probably guess why. Up until 2013, Oscar Pistorius was one of the most loved athletes in sport. But then news began to surface that he was involved in his girlfriend’s murder. He was found guilty of shooting his girlfriend dead, and understandably the fallout from that incident and subsequent conviction was massive. He was convicted of murder, and this marked the end of his time in the limelight – well, for the right reasons.
Because of Oscar’s achievements and his backstory, he was a highly marketable athlete. Everyone knew who he was, and because of that, tons of companies wanted a piece of him. Nike, Oakley, and Thierry Mugler are a few of the companies that broke ties with him, and because of those cancelled contracts, it’s reported he lost in excess of $2m a year, not that he’d need that kind of cash where he is now.
13 Wayne Rooney - Cheated On Wife While She Was Pregnant
England international soccer captain and Man United stalwart – well, for now at least - Wayne Rooney only had himself to blame when some major sponsors cancelled their contracts with the soccer star. He’s always been a fiery character, but things came to a head in 2010 for Rooney. On the pitch, he was going great, it really was a stellar year for him, but off it he just couldn’t keep it in his pants – or so it was alleged. With such a high-profile guy, allegations are all it takes to ruin a person’s reputation, and Rooney’s was seriously tarnished when rumors of his infidelity surfaced. He was alleged to have slept with a number of prostitutes, while being married, while his wife was at home pregnant with his kid.
Rooney lost major sponsorship deals with Tiger beer, and Coca-Cola let him go soon after, saying that they were “disgusted” with his antics. He may have lost a ton of cash when these companies cut ties with him, but it was still only pocket money for Rooney and the lost cash wouldn’t have hit him hard financially.
12 Chris Brown - Ads Pulled After Assaulting Rihanna
There’s no arguing with the fact that Chris Brown is a talented singer and songwriter. That he may be, but because of what’s come to light about his private life, some of the stuff he’s gotten up to, it’s safe to assume he’s not a very nice person. He was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend at the time, Rihanna, in 2009, and got into plenty of hot water because of it, and understandably so. He was boycotted for a long time, some singers didn’t want to collaborate with him, but now he’s back to doing what he does best, back to singing and rapping and making sweet music.
But the fallout from that incident really was massive. It was a big deal, such a big deal that Brown’s sponsors pulled the plug on their contracts with him. He was in those “Got Milk” ads, but was dropped right after he was found guilty of assaulting Rihanna.
11 Kate Moss - Leaked Drug Photos Caused A Stir
Kate Moss went from being a sweet teenage supermodel, to the wild girl about town. For over two decades, it was all partying, sex, drugs and that whole lifestyle for Kate, and it eventually took its toll on her, in more ways than one. In the early to mid-2000s, Kate was making headway in the modeling industry, and was establishing herself as the model every company wanted to work with. She was the face of numerous labels and fashion campaigns, but it was a time which also coincided with her partying antics. With the money came the drugs and the alcohol, and this seriously affected her career as it became something she couldn’t get a grip on, an addiction.
The prying eyes of the paparazzi snapped a pic of her snorting cocaine, the image was splashed all over the tabloids, and that led to many fashion labels dropping her then and there – they didn’t want to be associated with a drug user. H&M was one of those companies that dropped her, and she lost millions as a result of that cancelled contract.
10 Lindsay Lohan - Hard-Partying Cost Her A Lot Of Work
American actress and singer Lindsay Lohan has battled with drug and alcohol problems pretty much all throughout her career. She was heavily into drugs as a teenager, and these substance abuse issues have just continued and have been further exacerbated over the years during her time in the limelight. She was a child star, and so the glitz and the glamor of being in the public eye is all she’s ever known. But evidently she’s found it incredibly tough to deal with.
Over the years there have numerous instances where Lindsay’s been caught taking drugs. Pics have been snapped and circulated of her snorting cocaine and just being off her face from alcohol and drugs. Understandably she’s gotten into plenty of hot water over these problems, plenty of legal trouble, but it’s also affected her career. Around 2008 her career was going nowhere, everything she was doing was flopping, she herself was considered to be a flop actress, and so understandably the fashion label Jill Stuart dropped her, causing her to lose a ton of cash.
9 Rihanna - The Company Was To Blame
This is one of those rare instances where the actual company that did the hiring was to blame for parting ways with singing superstar, Rihanna. Rihanna didn’t do anything wrong, wasn’t caught in a compromising situation or anything like that; it was probably a case of Nivea not knowing what they had on their hands. It’s their fault entirely, their marketing team, or whoever thought it was wise to hire Rihanna to be the face of their products in the first place.
Rihanna isn’t known for being the shy and retiring type, for being conservative with her outfits, with her songs and music videos. She’s known for her raunchiness, her sex appeal, and her edgy reputation. Around the time she began to be known increasingly more for being a sex symbol, Nivea parted ways with her. It’s a trusted family brand, and Rihanna didn’t fit in well with their ideals. She lost millions, but was actually probably glad to be rid of them – it was pretty unprofessional on Nivea’s part.
8 Madonna - The Controversy Of Pepsi
In 1989, Pepsi got singing sensation Madonna on board, a contract said to be around $5m – quite a substantial amount of cash for a sponsorship deal back in those days. Madonna’s career had just taken off and her albums were topping charts worldwide. Pepsi thought they’d gotten themselves a superstar, which they had, but again they didn’t anticipate the kind of character Madonna was, or what she was going to get up to in her music videos.
Much like the situation with Rihanna and Nivea, Pepsi found what Madonna put together in her videos to be too much, too distasteful, and so they cut the connection right away. It was the hit single “Like a Prayer” that did it for them. In that music video there was a murder, the burning of crosses, and a host of other stuff that just didn’t sit well with Pepsi, so she was canned by the company, just a matter of months after signing on the dotted line and joining forces with them.
7 Paula Deen - Racism Doesn't Pay
American celebrity chef and cooking show TV host Paula Deen has been a big deal in the food industry for decades, an industry she’s still actively involved in today. At the ripe old age of 70, she’s still hosting shows, writing and releasing cookbooks, and actively runs a restaurant with her kids. I say she’s still actively involved, still alive and kicking, but her career has actually taken a hit in recent years, after it emerged that she’d used racial slurs in one of her social media posts.
At the time, she was working on the Food Network, and had endorsements from Smithfield Foods and Caesars Palace. But due to her racially insensitive remarks, all three dropped her and ceased working with her, and the once-cherished chef lost millions as a result of those lost sponsorship deals. Today her focus is on her restaurant, although there are reports that her restaurant business has been on the decline too.
6 Mike Tyson - Pepsi Doesn't Like Abuse Either
Ok, so where do I start with Mike Tyson... His list of indiscretions is absolutely massive, and he’s had his fair share of run ins with the law over the years.
Tyson really was the baddest man on the planet. Being bad, destructive and tough as nails in the ring is one thing, but taking that level of ruthlessness out of the boxing arena is another. That’s what landed Iron Mike in plenty of trouble.
As the youngest heavyweight on the planet, the attention, the fame, and the fortune, got to him, and exacerbated his already wild personality. Controversy was always around the corner from Mike; he’s been called out for abusing women, raping women, biting ears off opponents, and more. He self-destructed and paid dearly. Mike spent
time in prison, and also lost a ton of cash, most of which he squandered himself, but he also lost millions when sponsors dropped him. In 1988, after his wife came out and said Tyson used to be abusive, Pepsi and a number of other sponsors parted ways with him, costing him in excess of $10m a year – that was a night out on the town for Tyson in those days.
5 Michael Phelps - Drugs And DUIs Don't Look Good
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete in history. He wins gold medals for fun when he competes, and understandably has been raking in the cash. Being an Olympian, he gets some funding when he does well – so that’s a hell of a lot of cash for Michael! But most of his earnings come from sponsorship deals.
He’s endorsed tons of companies over the years, but has been involved in quite a few controversial moments too, and that’s caused quite a few companies to pull out of their deals with the star swimmer. Kellogg's is a notable company that dropped Phelps when one of his past indiscretions came to light. A picture of him allegedly smoking marijuana while in college hit the headlines, and that was enough for Kellogg's to cut ties with Phelps. But plenty of other companies, Under Armour, Omega, Master Spas, and Sol Republic headphones for example, have remained with him, even after that pic went viral and after his DUIs.
4 Manny Pacquiao - Homophobia Doesn't Sell Products
Manny Pacquiao’s arguably one of the greatest boxers to have ever laced up the gloves. As a welterweight he decimates his opponents, and his exciting boxing style draws in the crowds, and ensures people tune in. He hasn’t just had success at welterweight though; he’s an eight-division world champion, hence he’s considered one of the greatest of all time.
Manny’s also heavily into politics in his native Philippines. Since 2010 he’s been a member of the House of Representatives, and as of last year he’s been serving as a senator, and will continue to do so until 2022. There’s been rumors while he’s been involved in politics that his boxing will take a back seat, which it has in a way, but he’s still fighting and training.
Being the megastar that he is, it’s understandable that tons of companies wanted to get him on board. But those who did weren’t very happy when he came out with the homophobic statement that “gay people are worse than animals.” He lost a lot of fans because of that statement, and a lot of his sponsors immediately condemned him and dropped him – the one that hurt would have been Nike. They severed their partnership with him and because of that he lost around $2.5m a year. For Manny that wasn’t really going to hit him hard, but it’s still a considerable sum of cash which I’m sure even someone on Manny’s income could have found some use for.
3 Tiger Woods - Affairs Don't Look Good To Brands
Manny Pacquiao lost a couple of million after his derogatory comment, but that figure pales in comparison to the amount of cash Tiger Woods lost when he was having his problems.
Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time. He was winning tournaments for fun and was one of the wealthiest sportsman in the world, raking in the cash through winner’s cheques and sponsorship deals with some major companies. Everything was going swimmingly for Tiger, but then in 2009, things began to unravel pretty quickly for the golfing superstar. There was that whole sex scandal, extramarital affairs, Tiger admitting he was a sex addict, going to rehab, then that car crash which just exacerbated the media speculation as to how fragile his state of mind was. Pretty much since then his golfing, and his life, has suffered and he’s been a shadow of his former self.
His finances have suffered too. The fallout from that sex scandal and the subsequent car crash was massive. Around 90% of Tiger’s earnings had been from sponsors, so when Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade, and Buick parted ways with him, it’s estimated he lost around $22m a year. But thankfully for Tiger, Nike stuck with him – although they’re paying him significantly less than they did when he was at his peak – and he’s somehow managed to get some new sponsors too, so he’s not dead and buried quite yet.
2 Lance Armstrong - A Huge Fall From Grace
Lance Armstrong was once a monumental figure in the world of cycling, and even just in the world of sports, full stop. The professional road cyclist won a ton of races during the course of what was at the time, a glittering career, and was an inspiration to many. Coming back from cancer to win major races is no easy feat, and it meant that Lance was regarded to be one of the world’s greatest sportsmen for over a decade.
But in 2012, it was discovered that he’d been hiding a nasty secret, and there was more to his success than just hard work and mental determination. It was discovered that he’d been doping, pretty much throughout his entire career. He was banned from the sport, stripped of various titles and wins, and the darling of cycling became a hated figure. The disgraced former cyclist also lost millions as a result of the doping scandal, a truly huge sum of cash. He lost deals with his sponsors Trek, Easton-Bell Sports, 24-Hour Fitness, Nike, Anheuser-Busch, RadioShack, Oakley, Honey Stinger, and FRS, and cash said to be in the region of $150m, and apparently this all happened within a 24-hour period. Hero to zero within a matter of hours - ouch!
1 Maria Sharapova - A Doping Miscommunication
This one’s pretty recent. In 2016, the news that Maria Sharapova failed a drug test rocked the world of tennis, as did the news that she’d be suspended from the sport. The substance she’d taken, meldonium, had been banned by WADA just a few months before the failed drugs test, and she claimed she had no idea it was then on list of banned substances. Many people hated on her for what was essentially doping, but plenty stood by her and took what she said to be a reasonable explanation. Her two-year ban was reduced to 15 months and she’s now back on court looking to get back to winning ways.
Maria was one of the wealthiest female athletes in the world, and that’s mainly due to her sponsors. She’s beautiful, tall, graceful, and a global superstar, so it’s little wonder why companies wanted her on board. Porsche, American Express, and Avon revoked their contracts with her, as did her most lucrative deal by far, which was with Nike, but they later changed their minds and stood by her, as did other sponsors such as Evian.