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Paula Deen-Like Disasters: 5 of the Biggest Celebrity Endorsement Flame-Outs

Rick Munarriz
July 14, 2013

When a celebrity messes up there's usually a hefty price to pay.

Paula Deen's racial slur cost her dearly in corporate sponsorships.

Paula Deen has seen her future earnings prospects dim after her admission of using a racial slur. She lost her show. Several retailers have stopped stocking the celebrity chef's products. However, Deen has also lost lucrative endorsements with casino operator Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) and packaged pork products producer Smithfield Foods (NYSE: SFD).

She's not alone.

Several notable celebrities have found themselves booted from endorsement deals after running afoul of public opinion.

Let's go over five athletes, athletes, singers, and models that have paid the price for messing up.

Tiger Woods
Loyalty is a big thing in sports, so it wasn't a surprise to see the public sour on Tiger Woods after he was caught having affairs with several different women.

The popular golfer's wife eventually left him, but corporate sponsors bailed even earlier. 

Tiger Woods was dumped by his wife and companies like PepsiCo when he was caught cheating.

Corporate consulting giant Accenture and Gillette razor parent Procter & Gamble picked up their caddy bags and walked away from Woods. PepsiCo's (NYSE: PEP) Gatorade also ended its relationship with Woods, though the beverage giant suggested that it was not going to renew its deal with the golf master anyway.

The one corporate giant that stuck around was Nike (NYSE: NKE). 

Earlier this year Nike even put out a new controversial ad with "Winning Takes Care of Everything" as a tag line. Was Nike taunting those that knocked Woods after his infidelity? Nike generated more than $725 million in golf-related gear last year. It didn't want to dismiss the game's most prolific and marketable player.

Kate Moss
Supermodels rarely have it as good when it comes to corporate sponsorships as Kate Moss did in 2005.

She was the face of H&M, Chanel, and Burberry, but all three fashion-forward retailers and brands dropped the waifish model after photos of Moss snorting cocaine made the rounds.

Kate Moss has kept her girlish figure but lost her role-model status when she was photographed snorting cocaine.

Drug use isn't an automatic deal-breaker. Subway stuck with Michael Phelps after the Olympics swimmer was photographed inhaling pot through a bong, even though Kellogg moved to remove Phelps from Corn Flakes boxes. Trippy musical artists are unlikely to be marked down for dabbling in illegal narcotics.

However, Moss was held to a higher standard as a role model for young girls. The brands had their reputations to protect.

Gilbert Gottfried
Twitter may seem to be a harmless platform, but a lot of damage can be done in 140 characters or less. 

AFLAC squawked after an insensitive Tweet by Gilbert Gottfried, now the former voice of the AFLAC duck.

Just ask Gilbert Gottfried. The comedian's distinctive grating voice has earned him some pretty sweet gigs as a voice actor. He was Iago the parrot in Disney's Aladdin. He was also the voice of the AFLAC duck, at least until he posted some insensitive tweets in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami of 2011.

Ouch. Edgy comedians are known to cross the line, but the problem with Gottfried's barrage of ill-advised tweets that belittled the Japanese casualties is that AFLAC's biggest insurance market just happens to be Japan.

Lance Armstrong
There's nothing as vile in the sports world as cheating, and that's exactly what happened to cycling legend Lance Armstrong when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing, career-destroying drugs.

He lost fans. He had to relinquish Tour de France titles. However, the collective sound of disillusioned flinging off their Livestrong bracelets wasn't lost on the many companies that relied on Armstrong to pitch their products.