Nike has suspended its support agreement with Deshaun Watson, becoming the first major sponsor to publicly distance itself from the Houston Texans quarterback following allegations of sexual misconduct and assault leveled against him.
In a brief statement provided to USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday, the company said it was “deeply concerned about the disturbing allegations” and suspended its relationship with Watson.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Nike said.
CNBC first reported the news.
Hours later, the headphone company Beats by Dr. Dre ended its partnership with Watson, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Watson had been a partner of Beats since entering the draft in 2017.
Nike’s move comes less than 24 hours after two women came out publicly with their allegations against Watson.
Ashley Solis, the first of 22 women to sue him in Texas under the pseudonym “Jane Doe”, told a press conference that she was initially afraid to add her name to the allegations but “I no longer be afraid. . “
“I am an assault and harassment survivor,” Solis said from attorney Tony Buzbee’s office in Houston. “Deshaun Watson is my attacker and my stalker.”
Another lawyer for Buzbee’s firm, Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, later read a letter from a second victim who wanted to come forward, named Lauren Baxley. Solis and Baxley both identified as massage therapists.
Watson, 25, has widely denied the wrongdoing and his legal team, led by Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, has repeatedly tried to frame the allegations as a seizure of money. Hardin said in a statement Tuesday that Buzbee’s company “sought $ 100,000 in silent money” before filing Solis’ lawsuit last month.