Tweeting Steelers player sues over endorsement deal
Pro athletes who use Twitter often get themselves in trouble. Rashard Mendenhall is finding out that posting your opinions through tweets can cost you millions.
According to Reuters, the Pittsburgh Steelers running back is suing Hanesbrands Inc. because they cancelled his endorsement deal after he tweeted controversial messages after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Apparently getting people’s panties in a bunch on social media is grounds for termination.
Mendenhall used Twitter on May 2 to criticize the many celebrations that began due to the news that bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
Naturally some sensitive Twitter users replied with furious anger. They questioned if Mendenhall would have said the same thing about Hitler’s death.
Mendenhall was told by the company on May 5 that it was ending his contract because it disagreed with his opinions that he made public on Twitter three days earlier, according to the lawsuit filed on Monday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where Hanesbrands is based.
In 2008 Mendenhalle signed a deal with the underwear manufacturer to promote its Champion sports brand. He is seeking damages of more than $1 million and alleging that they breached the contract.
Steven Thompson, Mendenhall's attorney, claims the suit isn’t about money. "It's about his ability to comment on social issues," he said.
Hanesbrands did not comment on the matter.