Portugal and Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has been the face of sportswear giant Nike ever since signing his first deal with the company back in 2003; during his Sporting Lisbon days. Since then, he has endorsed more than 70 new different boots which eventually gave resulted in him singing a lifetime contract with Nike in 2016, becoming only the third athlete to do so – after Basketball superstars Michael Jordan and LeBron James. And his deal is reportedly worth a whopping $1billion (£770m).
But when Ronaldo thought everything is going his way, last week Kathryn Mayorga – a 34-year-old teacher – filed a lawsuit against the Portuguese, accusing him of raping her back in 2009 in a Las Vegas hotel room. Mayorga also said that the player paid her a hefty $375,000 as an out-of-court settlement which stated that she would never speak anything over the incident in public.
The Las Vegas police had then – in 2009 – confirmed they investigated the case, but since they had no stern evidence, the case was dusted. But now, as BBC quotes, the Las Vegas police has reopened the case and will start their investigation from the scratch. Furthermore, although Ronaldo had testified himself with a tweet, saying that he “firmly denies the accusations being issued against him,” sporting giants Nike have been deeply disturbed with these incidents and when approached over it, they released an official statement which said; “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
The association between Ronaldo and Nike started way back in 2003 and the first time product he endorsed was the Mercurial Vapor. Soon after his move to Manchester United, which made him the then most expensive teenager, he became the face of their new product Mercurial Vapor R9.
In 2008, when United had arguably the most feared attacking unit, Ronaldo donned the Mercurial Vapor IV SL. A move to Real Madrid for a then world record fee followed in 2009 and Ronaldo was seen in a brand new Mercurial Vapor Superfly. Since then, there has only been a way up. Boots like Mercurial Superfly IV, Mercurial Superfly IV CR7, Mercurial Superfly IV CR7 SE, Mercurial Superfly IV CR7 Silverware, Mercurial Superfly IV CR7 324K, Mercurial Superfly IV CR7 Savage Beauty and what not! Ronaldo was associated with everything Nike was producing for the sport.
Besides Nike, Ronaldo has also been the face of EA Sport’s FIFA franchise for a long time. And they too have responded to the aforementioned allegation, stating; “We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo,” a spokesperson for EA told The Hollywood Reporter. “We are closely monitoring the situation, as we expect cover athletes and ambassadors to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA’s values.”
Another example (FIFA homepage) today vs last week. pic.twitter.com/5q9nJREKBd
— Dan – Fifanomics (@Fifanomicsnet) October 4, 2018
Nike and EA are just two of his big commercial partners, as his empire stretches up to his own CR7 brand (which includes clothing, fragrance, footwear products, hotels and is valued at £70m), Tag Heuer, Herbalife and American Tourister. And not to forget his sponsored social media posts, which made his sponsors earn a massive £700m in 2017. Adding to it, he earned £70m (which includes £25m in off the pitch licensing deals) in 2017.
Meanwhile, if convicted over allegations, Ronaldo won’t be the only athlete losing his millions. Back in 2012, Nike decided to end their association with Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong after he was accused of doping. The Sun quotes Amstrong lost a whopping £150m after this. Former boxer Mike Tyson was accused by his former wife Robin Givens in 1988 over abuse and soon after, he lost his main sponsor Pepsi from his roster.
These cases also stretch up to Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods. The former was reportedly accused of sexual assault in 2003, but the lack evidence forced the officials to drop the case. Although Nike decided to stay with the player, the likes of McDonald’s and Nutella ended their association with the player. The latter, on the other hand, lost Gillette and Tag Heuer from his roster after he smashed his wife’s car with the golf club in 2009.
The events allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion. 2/2
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 4, 2018
Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s current club Juventus have backed their superstar, appraising him for his “professionalism and dedication.” In a series of tweets, the club said, “Cristiano Ronaldo has shown in recent months his great professionalism and dedication, which is appreciated by everyone at Juventus.”
They also added, “The events allegedly dating back to almost 10 years ago do not change this opinion, which is shared by anyone who has come into contact with this great champion.”