Sportswear giant Nike has pulled the plug on a Deshaun Watson endorsement and sponsorship deal over sexual assault allegations reportedly described as “disturbing”.
The Houston Texans quarterback is currently under investigation by the Houston Police Department over allegations and complaints filed by 22 women. The complainants are accusing the star quarterback of sexual harassment and inappropriate actions and behaviour of a sexual nature.
In a statement released by Nike on Wednesday, the company describes the allegations made against Watson as being of a disturbing and deeply concerning nature. The statement furthermore confirms that Nike will continue to closely monitor the investigation, but that for the moment, the decision has been taken to suspend all endorsements and support.
Watson last season alone earned close to $30 million from the franchise. In addition to his remuneration received from the club, he earns millions more from several big-name sponsorship deals enjoyed with brands like Rolex and Beats by Dre. Watson’s remaining sponsors have not yet issued any formal statements or comments following Nike’s strong-worded withdrawal.
Most of the women complaining about the quarterback’s questionable behaviour are massage therapists by occupation. Their complaints mostly relate to inappropriate behaviour during massage therapy sessions, with some claiming to have been sexually and physically assaulted by Watson during said treatment sessions.
Watson’s legal counsel, attorney Rusty Hardin, has responded to the allegations by claiming that the complaints are completely “without merit”.
The Houston Police Department is currently investigating the allegations.
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