Star Athletes Are Bad For Your Health

There's a reason Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, in this his 20th and final season in the Major Leagues, is getting a standing ovation in every stadium he plays in: He does everything the "right way."

He doesn't get involved in extramarital affairs (not the least due to him making the wise decision to stay away from marriage until after his playing career), he's never been involved in any of the steroid scandals that have plagued the sport, and he's stayed with one team his entire career. (He's even been voted the 11th greatest leader in the world in a recent poll.) And now he's adding another point to the resume by getting involved in the food truck game.

But, Jeter being Jeter, it's not just some random food truck with burgers and fries he's attaching his name to. Unlike just about every other superstar athlete out there, Jeter's actually promoting food that's good for you.

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Here, then, is a list of the anti-Jeters. These are the worst offenders when it comes to shilling for Big Food corporations, athletes more interested in lining their wallets than using their celebrity status to promote healthy eating. They are, in no particular order:

Apolo Ohno

While the American speed skater retired after the 2010 Winter Olympics, his photogenic looks and charming personality have led to plenty of television appearances since. He's been a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars," a commentator for the Olympics, a game show host, and even had a guest appearance on the reboot of Hawaii Five-O. That exposure has landed him plenty of sponsorship gigs. Unfortunately, they're with such companies as McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Oreo.

LeBron James

There's a reason LeBron James is the third richest athlete on the planet, and it's not because of his salary earned playing basketball. That job of his "only" pays $19.3 million a year. The more substantial source of his income is endorsement deals, which run upwards of $53 million a year. Who pays him? Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Vitamin Water, and Powerade are his big food sponsors. I'd very much like to see him play a full 82 game season subsisting only on food from his sponsors.

Serena Williams

According to a study by the journal Pediatrics, Serena Williams -- along with pretty much everyone else on this list -- was one of the top athletes when it came to promoting the most unhealthy items. Among the companies she cashes checks from: Gatorade, Kraft, McDonald's, and Nabisco.

Tony Stewart

NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart has a unique credential on his portfolio. He's the only person on this list that has appeared in commercials for both McDonald's and Burger King. (In addition to Subway, Coca-Cola, and a whole bunch of others.) In Stewart's defense, it's not like you need to be in that great of shape to drive a car in circles a bunch of times.

Peyton Manning

I know I started this by saying there was no particular order, but let's go ahead and call Manning the worst of the bunch. The same acting chops that's made him a go-to guest host on "Saturday Night Live" has also led to every corporation lining up to get him to star in their commercials. It's still unclear if he's ever said the word "no."

Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, and Nabisco are some of his top sponsors, but those are nothing compared to the company he put his own money behind:

I've already gone through why Papa John's is terrible, so instead let's focus on owner "Papa John" Schnatter himself. This is not only a man who is adamant about not paying for his employees' healthcare coverage, but also runs a company that is under investigation for exploitative worker practices. (He's worth roughly $600 million, it should be pointed out.) And yet he's a guy Manning looks at and says, "Now, there's someone I want to get in business with."

For shame, Peyton. And the rest of you, too. Try to be a little more like Jeter.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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