Deshaun Watson dropped by Reliant after Nike halts endorsement; Beats by Dre reportedly ends deal with QB

KTRK logo
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Companies begin to sever ties from Deshaun Watson
In the wake of the first public statements from Deshaun Watson's accusers, companies who have ties with the star QB are now distancing themselves.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In the wake of Nike suspending its sponsorship deal with him, and in addition to the Beats by Dre brand reportedly severing ties, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is being dropped as a brand ambassador by Reliant Energy, the only Texas-based company so far to distance itself from the embattled NFL star.

In a statement released to Eyewitness Sports on Wednesday, Reliant said it "is aware of pending civil lawsuits and a criminal investigation involving Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans quarterback. Our relationship with Watson as a brand ambassador was scheduled to end this spring prior to these allegations, and there are no plans for future engagements or contracts with him."

Reliant added, "We take accusations of this nature very seriously. With respect to the legal process, we do not have any further comment on this matter."

Earlier Wednesday, athletic shoe brand Nike put its endorsement deal on hold with Watson, while sources told ESPN that headphone brand Beats by Dre ended its sponsorship of the QB amid the sexual assault and inappropriate behavior allegations made against him.

"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation," Nike said in a statement.

Late Wednesday afternoon, H-E-B told ABC13 its relationship with Watson ended with the Texans' 2020 season.

"There are no plans for future engagement," the Texas grocery chain added, without commenting on Watson's legal situation.

RELATED: If allegations are true, this could be 'career killer', legal expert says

Twenty-two women have filed lawsuits against Watson over the past month that allege a "disturbing pattern" of behavior during massage and therapy sessions. On Tuesday, Ashley Solis publicly spoke about her allegations, saying Watson "robbed" her of the feeling that she was healing people as a massage therapist.

Alleged victim of Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson speaks publicly for 1st time

We now know the names of two of the women accusing Deshaun Watson of unwanted sex acts. With Houston attorney Tony Buzbee at her side, one of the women spoke, through tears, for the first time.

Watson's brand partnerships include Rolex and local partnerships with H-E-B, among others. He also joined Lefty's, a cheesesteak franchise, opening a restaurant in Houston near NRG Stadium in 2020.

The NFL has launched an investigation into Watson under its personal conduct policy, and NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy on Tuesday called the allegations against the quarterback "deeply disturbing." The Houston Police Department also has an open investigation into Watson, without specifying what he has been accused of.

READ: Houston Texans GM says lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson are 'certainly troubling'

Watson has publicly denied any wrongdoing, and Rusty Hardin, whose law firm is representing Watson, said last month that he believes "any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is "completely false." Hardin said in a statement last week that he and Watson will "fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department."

In response to Tuesday's news conference, Hardin's law firm said in a statement that Tony Buzbee's law firm "sought $100,000 in hush money on behalf of Ms. Solis to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit."

Deshaun Watson's lawyer says accuser wanted $100K to stay quiet

Last week, 18 women released statements through Hardin, saying they have worked with the Texans quarterback and that he "never made them feel uncomfortable or demanded anything outside the scope of a professional massage."

Watson's attorney said the statements were voluntary and were from women who have collectively "worked with Deshaun more than 130 times over the past five years."

On Tuesday, Buzbee said one of the women who gave one of those statements also sent a direct message concerning Watson, saying she stopped working with him because she was "hearing too much stuff about him messing with other people."

"That's two different stories," Buzbee said. "Now, am I suggesting that the 18 women had bad experiences? I don't know. Am I suggesting there's a reason they came forward? I don't know. That's a question for you to ask. But what I do know is that what was said publicly by this one individual and what was said privately were two completely different things."

Click through this immersive experience to read about each of the 22 lawsuits. For a better experience on the app, click here to see the experience on its own page.

The video above is from a previous report.

ESPN contributed to this report.