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Top 10 Celebrities Dropped By A Sponsor After a Controversy

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Spencer Sher Woops! You celebrities should have known better than to pull off that stunt! When celebrities do something silly, they don’t just hurt their reputations, but they also face the reality of getting dropped by certain sponsors. In this list, we’ll be looking at the celebrities who had exactly that happen after a racist tirade, a over-sexualized music video, or even accusations of owning child pornography.

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Top 10 Celebrities Dropped By A Sponsor After a Controversy

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrities Dropped by a Sponsor after Controversy.

For this list, we’re looking exclusively at celebrities who’ve lost endorsement deals due to scandal. Though they’re also high-profile figures, scandalous athletes like Tiger Woods will not be considered, because they deserve their own list.

#10: Lil Wayne

Back in 2013, Lil Wayne got into trouble with one of his sponsors when he compared a sex act to the death of civil rights icon Emmett Till. Till was a black teen living in Mississippi in 1955 who was lynched after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in public. Wayne’s allusion to this tragic event culminates in a single line of lyrics that was in such poor taste that Mountain Dew had no choice but to drop him as a celebrity sponsor. While Lil Wayne eventually apologized for the lyric, it did nothing to change his former sponsor’s decision.

#9: Paula Deen

Remember what your mom used to say whenever you called someone a bad name? If you don’t have something nice to say... don’t say anything at all. Well, Paula Deen has either never heard that old idiom, or failed to internalise it. The Southern celebrity chef found herself in hot water back in 2013 when she revealed that she had used the “N-word” multiple times in the past. While honesty is usually the best policy, owning up to her mistakes wasn’t enough to make up for the fact that she’d used the racial slur. And so, many of her sponsors, including Wal-Mart, Smithfield Foods, Target and Sears, ran for the hills.

#8: John Galliano

Galliano, a fashion designer and creative director for Dior, was one of the most sought after names in the industry prior to his now infamous outburst in 2011. Dior dismissed the British fashion icon after he fired off a tirade of drunken, anti-Semitic comments in a Parisian bar. Seeing as how hate speech is illegal in France, and that the entire incident was caught on tape, Galliano was fined thousands of dollars, in addition to being let go. It probably didn’t help his image much that he tried to countersue with a defamation suit against his accusers.

#7: Kate Moss

If someone asked you to name five world famous models, chances are Kate Moss would be one of them. From the beach to the runway to the cover of Vogue magazine, Moss has hit every base in the modeling world. She was in such high demand in 2005 that she found herself working three separate high profile campaigns for H&M, Chanel and Burberry. Unfortunately, this was the same year that a British tabloid published photos of her using cocaine in a recording studio. It didn’t take long for her aforementioned campaigns to drop her like a bad habit.

#6: Gilbert Gottfried

If you don’t recognize his name... we guarantee you’ll recognize his voice. Actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried has been making films since the ‘80s, famously lending his voice to the role of Iago the Parrot in “Aladdin”. In addition to his film work, Gottfried also voiced the Aflac duck in a slew of mid 2000s commercials. However, in light of a number of insensitive jokes he made on Twitter following the 2011 tsunami disaster in Japan, the insurance company dropped him. While some found the firing to be a little excessive, others claimed that because Aflac does a large amount of business in Japan, it was only common sense.

#5: Madonna

In the 1980s, Madonna was the hottest female singer on the planet. She was also one of the most controversial. Thus, when she signed an endorsement deal with Pepsi in 1989, the world collectively held its breath. And sure enough, it didn’t take long for panic to ensue. Madonna dropped the music video for her hit song “Like a Prayer,” which had already featured in a Pepsi ad. In the video, she performs in front of a field of burning crosses, gets sexual with a Catholic saint and much more. Religious groups everywhere were up in arms and threatened to boycott Pepsi, so the soda giant dropped the pop singer.

#4: Chris Brown

In 2009, the world watched in horror as R&B singer Chris Brown was arrested for assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Soon after, photographs were released of her battered face, and it wasn’t long before people everywhere were turning their backs on the 19-year-old Brown. Radio stations refused to play his music, commercials featuring him were pulled and sponsors – like the gum company Wrigley’s – dropped the singer cold. While he apologized profusely in the aftermath of the assault, Brown continued to be involved in violent altercations, causing many sponsors to stay away.

#3: PewDiePie

With over 50 million subscribers, Felix Kjellberg, who goes by the handle PewDiePie, is one of the most popular YouTube personalities in the world. However, with great popularity comes the opportunity for great controversy. The trouble began in 2017 when some of Kjellberg’s videos began to draw criticism due to a rash of anti-Semitic jokes. These off-color references and the ensuing controversy ultimately resulted in him being dropped by Maker Studios, a Disney owned multi-channel network that assists YouTubers in a number of areas like programming and audience development. As far as divisive online personalities go, PewDiePie is at the top of the list.

#2: Bill O’Reilly

In April of 2017, long-time Fox News host and political commentator Bill O’Reilly was let go in the wake of numerous sexual harassment accusations made by women who either worked for or appeared on his show, “The O’Reilly Factor”. While some of the allegations dated as far back as 2002, the full scope of O’Reilly’s wrongdoings weren’t made public until 2017, when The New York Times reported that an estimated $13 million had been paid out over the years in sexual harassment lawsuits. This caused “The O’Reilly Factor” to lose more than half of its sponsors seemingly overnight. Moral of the story: don’t sexually harass woman. It’s that simple.

#1: Jared Fogle

Though not much of a celebrity, this former Subway spokesperson definitely takes the cake when it comes to controversy. For years Jared was the fogle-point of Subway’s advertising campaigns. He claimed that by eating Subway regularly in addition to exercising, he was able to lose roughly 200 lbs. His inspiring story catapulted him into the spotlight, with Subway featuring him prominently in over 300 commercials. However, this all came to crashing halt in 2015 when Fogle was convicted for having child pornography and paying out for sex with youths, and ultimately sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison. Looks like it’s going to be a long time before Jared eats another Subway sandwich.

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