McDonald's cuts ties with Kobe Bryant; expiring three-year contract wasn't renewed Dec. 31

Monday, January 19th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) _ Kobe Bryant lost his sponsorship deal with McDonald's, costing the NBA star another endorsement while his sexual assault case proceeds in Colorado.

The fast-food company said Monday its three-year agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers guard expired Dec. 31 and was not renewed.

``It would be inappropriate to comment or speculate at this time about any future sponsorship relationship,'' spokesman Bill Whitman said.

Ferrero of Italy, the maker of Nutella chocolate spread, earlier chose to not renew Bryant's endorsement contract.

Bryant's once-wholesome image has been damaged since a 19-year-old woman accused him last year of sexual assault. Bryant admitted committing adultery but contends the sex was consensual.

Bryant, a five-time All-Star who helped the Lakers win three NBA championships, recently hurt his shoulder and could miss several weeks.