100 Most Talked About Scandals of the Decade

November 25, 2019 by John Harrington

The last decade has produced scandals that have been silly, salacious, and disturbing, involving celebrities, sports figures, captains of industry, and of course political figures, including the president himself.

As the decade draws to a close, 24/7 Tempo has taken this opportunity to compile a list of the 100 most talked about scandals of the decade. We created our list using news reports from various media covering business and finance, entertainment, sports, and politics.

Many scandals involved the serial sexual assault cases of comedian Bill Cosby and Hollywood big shot Harvey Weinstein, allegations that occurred over many decades. For many women, these allegations brought back painful memories. They are helping empower women, as did the feminists before them. Here are 25 women who shaped the feminist movement.

Companies were roiled by similar sexual misconduct episodes as well, and they also had to deal with public relations disasters involving price gouging of products like the EpiPen and treatments for HIV. Businesses like credit-scoring company Equifax, media business Sony, and social media company Yahoo were hacking victims — as were their customers who had their data breached. They were hardly alone. 2019 is on track to be the worst year on record for data breaches.

The past decade also saw scandals in the political sphere, such as the one involving New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose sexting misadventure might have cost him a chance at becoming mayor of New York City. President Donald Trump also had to deal with his own scandals, dealing with a hush-money scandal about an affair with a porn star.

Sports had its share of unfortunate affairs involving sexual assault and misconduct, as well as a ludicrous episode involving the New England Patriots, who were sanctioned by the NFL for surreptitiously deflating footballs to gain an advantage.

Click here to the 100 most talked about scandals of the decade.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

1. Tiger’s infidelity
> Year: 2010

Golfer Tiger Woods publicly apologized for his infidelity that led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

2. Lohan rehab, jail
> Year: 2010

Actress Lindsay Lohan checked into rehab and served time in jail for violating probation.

Source: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

3. O’Donnell called witch
> Year: 2010

Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell of Delaware denied she was a witch, though she admitted dabbling in witchcraft.

Source: J. Emilio Flores / Getty Images

4. Breakup of Gores’ marriage
> Year: 2010

The 40-year marriage of Al and Tipper Gore broke up over rumors of infidelity.

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

5. Gibson unhinged
> Year: 2010

Voicemail tapes catch Mel Gibson ranting about his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his love child, as well as his dropping the N-word.

Source: Rich Fury / Getty Images

6. Perry cleavage on Sesame Street
> Year: 2010

Katy Perry sang a version of her hit “Hot ‘n Cold” with Elmo on “Sesame Street” in a low-cut dress.

Source: Matt Cowan / Getty Images

7. Lady Gaga meat dress
> Year: 2010

Lady Gaga’s meat dress at the MTV Video Music Awards outraged animal rights activists.

Source: Matt Stroshane / Getty Images

8. RNC bondage club tab
> Year: 2010

The Republican National Committee’s reputation suffered a hit when it was revealed in March that the committee reimbursed the expenses of a donor at the club Voyeur in West Hollywood.

9. Longoria, Parker break up
> Year: 2010

“Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria filed for divorce from San Antonio Spurs star guard Tony Parker.

Source: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

10. Lovato in rehab
> Year: 2010

Pop singer and former Disney Channel child star Demi Lovato left a world tour with the Jonas Brothers to check into rehab.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

11. iPhone workers commit suicide
> Year: 2010

Chinese iPhone workers committed suicide at Foxconn factories in China over work pressure and difficult working conditions.

12. Weiner caught sexting
> Year: 2011

New York Democratic congressman and mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner, married to Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, was caught sexting via Twitter.

Source: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com

13. Arnold’s love child
> Year: 2011

Action movie superstar and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock. This led to the separation from his wife Maria Shriver.

Source: U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Joseph McKee

14. Sex-seeking congressman outed
> Year: 2011

Republican Rep. Christopher Lee, who is married, was exposed by Gawker.com for using Craigslist to seek sex. He was forced to resign.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

15. IMF leader arrest for sex assault
> Year: 2011

International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a maid at New York City hotel and had to resign. The prosecutor later asked that the case be dismissed.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

16. Sex accusations scuttle Cain bid
> Year: 2011

Presidential candidate Herman Cain was accused of unwanted sexual advances by multiple women.

Source: Patrick Smith / Getty Images

17. Sandusky arrested for sex assault of minors
> Year: 2011

Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused and later found guilty of molesting underage boys.

Source: Sara D. Davis / Getty Images

18. Edwards indicted
> Year: 2011

Former presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted on charges that he used campaign funds to cover up an extramarital affair.

Source: Photo by Jason Reed - Pool / Getty Images

19. Murdoch phone hacking
> Year: 2011

Illegal phone hacking by reporters forced Rupert Murdoch to shutter one of his newspapers.

Source: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

20. Italy PM Berlusconi resigns
> Year: 2011

Silvio Berlusconi resigns as Italy’s prime minister amid a sex-party scandal.

Source: Tom Pennington / Getty Images

21. Suh stomping fit
> Year: 2011

Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh was suspended after stomping on Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith during a game on Thanksgiving Day.

22. Braun tests positive for steroids
> Year: 2011

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and National League most valuable player Ryan Braun tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Source: Michael Reaves / Getty Images

23. University of Miami scandal
> Year: 2011

The University of Miami football program was brought to its knees by a wide-ranging scandal that included prostitutes provided to players, a booster who paid for an abortion, and players paid to hurt opponents.

24. Elmo puppeteer in sex scandal
> Year: 2012

Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash was caught in a sex scandal that involved an underaged teen. Clash eventually resigned.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

25. Hulk Hogan sex tape
> Year: 2012

A sex tape that featured former wrestler Hulk Hogan was made public.

26. Petraeus resigns after affair
> Year: 2012

CIA Director and general David Petraeus resigned after his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell was revealed.

Source: Bruno Vincent / Getty Images

27. Secret Service agents caught with prostitutes
> Year: 2012

Nine Secret Service agents were forced to resign or leave their jobs after they were caught with prostitutes in their hotel rooms while they were working at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia.

Source: George Frey / Getty Images

28. Boy Scouts covered up sex abuse for decades
> Year: 2012

The Boy Scouts of America kept a file of the names of 7,819 scout leaders who allegedly preyed on boys. An attorney representing the victims said the files went back to 1944 and also included the names of 12,254 victims.

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

29. Travolta accused of sex battery
> Year: 2012

Actor John Travolta was accused of sexual assault by three male masseuses. All three eventually dropped their cases.

Source: WPA Pool / Getty Images

30. Prince Harry photographed in nude
> Year: 2012

Ginger-haired royal Prince Harry was photographed nude in Las Vegas after playing a game of strip billiards.

Source: Eamonn M. McCormack / Getty Images

31. Cowell’s love child
> Year: 2013

Music impresario and “America’s Got Talent” and “X-Factor” judge Simon Cowell and New York socialite Lauren Silverman became parents of a love child.

Source: Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images

32. Deen caught using N-word
> Year: 2013

Celebrity chef Paula Deen was fired by the Food Network for using the N-word.

Source: Handout / Getty Images

33. Armstrong admits to doping
> Year: 2013

After years of denials, champion bicyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to talk-show host Oprah Winfrey to doping to enhance his performance.

Source: Jared Wickerham / Getty Images

34. NFL player Hernandez involved in murder
> Year: 2013

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez became suspected of murder. He was eventually charged with murder, found guilty, and committed suicide in jail.

35. JP Morgan accused of several misdeeds
> Year: 2013

JP Morgan was hit with various scandals in 2013, ranging from dubious recruiting forays in China, manipulation of electricity markets, to paying billions related to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

36. Ill-fated cruise
> Year: 2013

About 4,000 passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico for four days in February without power or working toilets, an unfortunate episode dubbed the “poop cruise.”

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

37. Google execs in love triangle
> Year: 2013

The Google love triangle involved company co-founder Sergey Brin, who had a fling with the company’s marketing manager, who was involved with another Google executive.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

38. America’s Dad accused of serial sex assaults
> Year: 2014

Multiple women came forward, accusing comedian and “America’s Dad” Bill Cosby of sexual assaults that go back decades.

39. TV series actor admits child molestation
> Year: 2014

“7th Heaven” series actor Stephen Collins admitted in a tape made during a marriage therapy session that he molested children.

40. Ray Rice assault of woman of film
> Year: 2014

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was caught on video assaulting his wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City elevator.

Source: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

41. Actresses’ nude images hacked
> Year: 2014

Actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton were among the celebrities whose nude photographs were hacked.

42. NBA owner racist comments
> Year: 2014

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught making racist comments, prompting an investigation by the NBA. Sterling eventually sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Source: David Becker / Getty Images

43. Sony hack
> Year: 2014

A cyber invasion roiled Sony Pictures, which was subsequently forced to use fax machines, communicate via posted messages, and pay employees with paper checks.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

44. VW emissions scandal
> Year: 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Volkswagen, then considered a model of automotive integrity, programmed engines to alter readouts on emissions results.

Source: Philipp Schmidli / Getty Images

45. FIFA corruption revealed
> Year: 2015

A wide-ranging scandal involving FIFA, international soccer’s ruling body, began when the Department of Justice indicted 14 high-ranking soccer officials on racketeering and corruption charges that eventually engulfed organization head Sepp Blatter, who announced his resignation.

Source: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

46. Shkreli stock fraud
> Year: 2015

CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli was pilloried for jacking up the price of a drug used by HIV patients by 5,000% to $750 a pill. He would eventually be arrested for securities fraud involving his activities at another company.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

47. Patriots caught deflating footballs
> Year: 2015

The New England Patriots were caught reducing the air pressure in footballs to gain an advantage in a scandal called “Deflategate” that led to the suspension of quarterback Tom Brady for four games.

Source: Joe Robbins / Getty Images

48. Sex party scandal at Louisville
> Year: 2015

A bombshell tell-all in October 2015 revealed that a graduate assistant at the University of Louisville helped arrange sex parties for the school’s men’s basketball team.

Source: Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images

49. Cowboys sign alleged woman assaulter
> Year: 2015

Dallas Cowboys courted controversy by signing alleged woman assaulter Greg Hardy.

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

50. Ariana Grande licks donut
> Year: 2015

Pop star Ariana Grande was seen on a video licking donuts displayed in a California shop and ranting about how she hates America. She later apologized for what she called a display of bad behavior.

Source: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

51. Missouri football team goes on strike
> Year: 2015

University of Missouri football team went on strike to protest racist tensions at the school, refusing to practice or play until the school’s president stepped down, which he did.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

52. Hastert’s money trail
> Year: 2015

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted for the Republican’s alleged attempts to hide a trail of money paid to a student he allegedly molested when he was a teacher in Illinois.

Source: Ed Schipul / Flickr

53. Veterans Administration mess
> Year: 2015

The Veterans Administration dealt with a slew of problems in 2015, among them refusal to fire officials who stole $400,000 from the agency and claims the administration was blocking promised benefits. Whistleblower allegations claimed that one in three vets had died while awaiting to be enrolled in the VA’s benefits program.

54. Chicago coverup of shooting of African-American teen
> Year: 2015

After a video of the incident surfaced, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was accused of allegedly covering up the shooting by city police of an African-American teen during his campaign for re-election.

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

55. Wells Fargo’s fake accounts
> Year: 2016

Wells Fargo’s aggressive sales tactics led to the creation of millions of fake customer accounts.

56. Sex scandal brings down Ailes
> Year: 2016

Roger Ailes was forced out as chairman and CEO of Fox News after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit alleging sexual harassment became public.

57. EpiPen price gouging scandal
> Year: 2016

Pharmaceutical company Mylan faced congressional scrutiny after the company had increased the price of the EpiPen, an emergency treatment of severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock), since it bought the company that made the device in 2007.

Source: dennism2 / Flickr

58. Samsung battery recall
> Year: 2016

Batteries for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 had to be recalled because they were exploding. The Federal Aviation Administration eventually banned the devices from domestic flights.

Source: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

59. Hoverboards ignite
> Year: 2016

The hoverboards favored by pre-teens and teens were recalled after some battery packs on the self-balancing scooters caught fire.

Source: opengridscheduler / Flickr

60. Airbnb accused of racism, prostitution
> Year: 2016

Airbnb, one of the symbols of the gig economy, was accused of racism and of running afoul of local zoning ordinances.

61. Chipotle norovirus outbreak
> Year: 2016

Mexican-themed fast-food chain Chipotle suffered a public relations disaster when reports revealed the presence of norovirus in its food. The food was infected by sick employees.

62. Yahoo accounts scandal
> Year: 2016

Yahoo suffered several PR blows in 2016, including CEO Marissa Mayer’s insensitive jokes about layoffs, the hacking of 500 million accounts, and revelations the company allowing the FBI to view private emails.

63. Olympic swimmer lies about robbery
> Year: 2016

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte was caught in a lie when he said he was robbed at gunpoint during the Olympics in Brazil.

Source: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

64. Depp, Pitt abuse claims
> Year: 2016

More abuse stories regarding male actors surfaced in 2016. Johnny Depp was accused of abusing ex-wife Amber Heard, and Brad Pitt was accused of abusing his son Maddox. Both Depp and Pitt got divorced from spouses Heard and Angelina Jolie.

Source: Rob Kim / Getty Images

65. ‘Access Hollywood’ tape with Trump
> Year: 2016

An “Access Hollywood” tape with Donald Trump and Billy Bush participating in lewd, vulgar, and appropriate remarks about women got the presidential candidate in hot water, and Bush stopped doing a segment for the “Today” show.

Source: Lisa Lake / Getty Images

66. Theranos shutters its labs
> Year: 2016

Theranos closed its labs amid a federal probe that looked into claims about its blood-testing technology.

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

67. US gymnastics coach accused of molesting gymnasts
> Year: 2016

An investigation by the Indianapolis Star revealed sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar, the former coach of the U.S. gymnastics team.

Source: Thomas Niedermueller / Getty Images

68. Sharapova tests positive
> Year: 2016

Tennis star Maria Sharapova tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended from the professional tennis tour for nine months. She also lost an endorsement deal with Nike.

69. Team Russia banned from Olympics
> Year: 2016

A doping scandal involving Russian athletes led to the team being banned from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

70. Griffin and Trump mock severed head
> Year: 2017

Comedian Kathy Griffin nearly scuttled her career after she was filmed showing a severed dummy’s head that resembled President Donald Trump.

71. Fyre Festival flop
> Year: 2017

Poor logistics for the Fyre Festival on Great Exuma island turned the event into a fiasco, becoming the subject of two documentaries about the chaotic festival.

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images

72. United drags passenger off plane
> Year: 2017

United Airlines experienced a public relations nightmare and was the subject of an attempted boycott when the carrier dragged a bloodied passenger off an overbooked flight.

Source: Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images

73. O’Reilly spun out of Fox over sex harassment claims
> Year: 2017

“The O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly was dropped by Fox News after it was revealed the commentator paid five women hush money to suppress sexual harassment charges.

Source: Earl Gibson III / Getty Images

74. R. Kelly cult rumors
> Year: 2017

Rapper R. Kelly was accused of forcibly housing women at his homes in Chicago and Atlanta, not letting them eat without his permission, and forcing them to perform sex acts.

Source: William Thomas Cain / Getty Images

75. Bill Cosby walks
> Year: 2017

Comedian Bill Cosby, accused of sexual assault, walked free following a mistrial in Pennsylvania.

Source: Heisenberg Media / Wikimedia Commons

76. Criminal probes against Uber CEO
> Year: 2017

Criminal probes were launched against Uber, claiming the ride-sharing service was allegedly using software to avoid regulators in areas where it was operating illegally. Travis Kalanick was forced to step down as CEO following allegations that a culture of sexual harassment existed under his leadership.

Source: coffeekai / iStock

77. Facebook and Russia
> Year: 2017

Facebook faced scrutiny following reports that bogus accounts on the social media platform linked to Russia purchased ads that sought to influence the U.S. election.

78. Lauer fired amid sex misconduct claims
> Year: 2017

Longtime “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer was fired amid sex misconduct allegations.

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

79. Spacey accused of sexual abuse
> Year: 2017

Kevin Spacey was fired from the long-running Netflix series “House of Cards” and removed from the already completed film “All the Money in the World” over sexual assault and misconduct claims made by men.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

80. Harvey Weinstein serial sex assault claims
> Year: 2017

More than 100 actresses came forward to accuse Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct going back decades, leading to the #MeToo movement.

Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

81. Equifax’s data breaches
> Year: 2017

Equifax, one of the big credit-scoring companies and supplier of information to financial companies, was hit by a major data breach in which the information of 145 million people was accessed without permission. CEO Richard Smith resigned in the wake of the hacking.

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

82. Samsung’s bribery charges
> Year: 2017

Samsung top corporate officers were caught in a bribery scandal that eventually brought down South Korea’s president.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

83. More wrongdoing at Wells Fargo
> Year: 2017

The woes at Wells Fargo continued in 2017, when the California-based bank said it charged about 570,000 customers auto insurance they did not need. The bank’s head of consumer banking and 70 senior managers lost their jobs.

Source: Jason Hanna / Getty Images

84. NFL player Hunt assaulted woman
> Year: 2018

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was released by the team after a video surfaced of him assailing a woman in a hotel in Cleveland.

Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

85. Barr show cancelled over racist tweet
> Year: 2018

The reboot of Roseanne Barr’s “Roseanne” show was going well until the star wrote a racist tweet, scuttling the show.

86. World Cup corruption claims
> Year: 2018

Great Britain Prime Minister David Cameron said the British lost their bid to host the World Cup soccer tournament because the Russians bribed officials at FIFA, soccer’s ruling organization.

Source: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

87. Ohio State coach suspended
> Year: 2018

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer was suspended during a scandal-tainted season that included his mishandling of domestic charges against a former wide receivers coach. He then retired.

88. Cano PED suspension
> Year: 2018

Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners, one of the greatest second basemen ever, was suspended for 80 games for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Source: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

89. Louisville stripped of wins
> Year: 2018

The scandal-plagued University of Louisville men’s basketball program was stripped of its national title following an investigation that found a former assistant coach helped arrange sex parties for players, recruits, and the recruits’ fathers.

90. Sexual misconduct claims at Google
> Year: 2018

Reports became public about sexual misconduct at Google, including executive Andy Rubin who helped develop the Android operating system. This led to an employee walkout.

Source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

91. Sexism accusation at the US Open
> Year: 2018

Tennis great Serena Williams had an outburst during the final of the U.S. Open, when an umpire deducted a point for various code violations, including receiving coaching from the stands. After the match, which Williams lost, she accused the umpire of sexism.

Source: Monica Schipper / Getty Images

92. Kelly loses job
> Year: 2018

News show host Megyn Kelly lost her segment on the “Today” show after she made blackface comments that some considered insensitive.

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images

93. University of Maryland football player death
> Year: 2018

The University of Maryland’s football coaching staff and medical personnel were accused of not reacting quickly enough when an offensive lineman collapsed and died from heatstroke during practice. Head coach DJ Durkin was fired as a result.

Source: Ira Bostic / Shutterstock.com

94. Hart removed as Oscars host
> Year: 2018

Comedian Kevin Hart stepped down as host of the Academy Awards after homophobic tweets he made surfaced.

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images

95. Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal
> Year: 2018

Facebook suspended its relations with data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica after the British company that was linked to the Trump presidential campaign improperly obtained data to serve the Trump bid. This was a violation of Facebook’s advertising partner terms.

Source: Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

96. Boeing caught knowing about 737 planes issues
> Year: 2019

Messages obtained by The New York Times showed Boeing officials knew about serious problems in its 737 Max plane years prior to the crashes that killed 346 people. The disasters led to an FBI investigation, and to the grounding of planes.

Source: Paul Marotta / Getty Images

97. College admissions scandal
> Year: 2019

A college admissions scandal, in which Hollywood stars and other wealthy families paid thousands of dollars to get their kids into colleges, was made public. Among those involved were Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman.

Source: Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images

98. Smollett hate-crime hoax
> Year: 2019

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett committed a hate-crime hoax in January, when he claimed he was assaulted by Trump supporters on a Chicago street. After an investigation failed to support his claims, he was arrested though charges were later dropped.

Source: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

99. Stormy Daniels
> Year: 2019

Porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit seeking to invalidate an agreement made with President Trump from speaking publicly about an alleged affair with the president was dismissed. The scandal first became public in January 2018.

Source: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

100. Epstein scandal involves Prince Andrew
> Year: 2019

The wide-ranging scandal of sex-ring operator Jeffrey Epstein, who died while in prison last summer, pulled in Britain’s Prince Andrew, who was kicked out of Buckingham Palace.