Cristiano Ronaldo’s lifetime sponsorship deal with Nike could be in jeopardy this week after the sports apparel giant expressed concern about “disturbing” allegations of rape against the global soccer superstar.
Ronaldo, 33, faces a lawsuit from a woman who claims he raped her in 2009 in a Las Vegas hotel room, then paid her $375,000 in exchange for her silence. Las Vegas police have reopened an investigation into the matter.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” Nike said in a statement.
Ronaldo is one of just three athletes to sign a lifetime contract with Nike. Finalized in 2016, the agreement is said to be worth up to $1 billion. He has been a Nike athlete since 2003.
The soccer star is also featured on the cover of the “FIFA 19” video game, Electronic Arts’ soccer series.
“We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo," an EA spokesperson said in a statement obtained by 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.”
Earlier this week, Ronaldo denied any wrongdoing in the matter in a series of posts to his 75 million Twitter followers.
“I firmly deny the accusations against me,” he wrote. “Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in. Keen as I may be to clear my name, I refuse to feed the media spectacle created by people seeking to promote themselves at my expense.”
A five-time winner of soccer’s Ballon d’Or, awarded to the world’s top player, Ronaldo is among the richest athletes in the world. He ranks third on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, with $61 million in salary and an additional $47 million in endorsement earnings in the last year alone.