Maker of chocolate spread ends endorsement deal with Bryant

Updated: August 4, 2003, 12:15 PM ET

NEW YORK -- The maker of a chocolate spread has ended its endorsement deal with Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who is facing a sexual assault charge in Colorado, according to a published report.

Ferrero, an Italian company with U.S. headquarters in Somerset, N.J., has discontinued all promotions involving Bryant, the New York Post reported Monday. Company spokeswoman Julie Hurbanis told the newspaper that Bryant's contract with the company is set to expire in five months.

Hurbanis said the decision was made months ago and was not based on the criminal charges against Bryant, but was part of a broader plan to target an older audience.

Another company spokeswoman, Brooke Tvedten, wouldn't immediately comment on the report when contacted by the AP on Monday. Tvedten said the company would release a statement later in the day.

Ferrero manufactures Nutella, a hazelnut-and-chocolate spread popular in Europe. Bryant spent part of his childhood living in Italy.

The Post reported that the company removed a picture of a Bryant doll and references to Bryant from its Web site within days of when Bryant was charged in Eagle, Colo.

Bryant, an All-Star guard for the Lakers, was charged with felony sexual assault involving a 19-year-old woman. Bryant said he had consensual sex with her June 30 at an exclusive spa where he was staying when he came to Colorado for knee surgery.

He has posted a $25,000 bond and is to return to Colorado on Wednesday for an initial court appearance.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE NBA HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM