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Friday, August 2, 2013
Nike cuts ties with Ryan Braun

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun has joined the list of athletes who have had contracts with Nike terminated.

KeJuan Wilkins, a spokesman for the world's largest shoe and apparel maker, acknowledged Friday that the company no longer has a relationship with Braun. The outfielder accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension imposed last week by Major League Baseball for his connection to the Biogenesis drug scandal.

Braun had been wearing Nike shoes and batting gloves for his entire seven-year major league career, and the company recently began selling "Big Bat Like Braun" and "Braun Owns Milwaukee" T-shirts in stores.

Braun has lost nearly all of his endorsement deals in the two years since he became connected to performance-enhancing drugs:

• Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip canceled its "Lunch With Ryan Braun" promotion;

• Although Wilson sold a Braun game-model glove this year, his name is no longer listed on the company's website. A representative from Wilson could not immediately be reached;

• Braun's deal with Muscle Milk was not renewed last year;

• Braun's name is still on a restaurant, Ryan Braun's Graffito, in Milwaukee. Omar Shaikh, co-owner and president of the SURG Restaurant Group, which owns the establishment, said he could not comment on the status of the relationship with Braun.

Braun isn't the first Nike-wearing sports figure cast off by the company. Nike dropped track coach Trevor Graham due to his association with PEDs in 2006 and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick the following year amid his funding of a dogfighting ring.

For what it's worth, Nike re-signed Vick four years later when he returned to the NFL after serving 21 months in prison. Most recently, in May of this year, Nike cut ties with cyclist Lance Armstrong after he admitted to using PEDs.