Nike drops Manny Pacquiao after anti-gay comments
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Nike just KO’d its endorsement deal with Manny Pacquiao.
Nike made the announcement on Wednesday — days after Pacquiao made comments about how gay people are “worse than animals.”
In a statement, Nike said it found Pacquiao’s comments “abhorrent.”
“Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community,” the statement read. “We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
The eight-time world boxing champion made the anti-gay comments while campaigning for a seat in the Philippine senate.
“It’s common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female,” Pacquiao said during an appearance on the Filipino station TV5. “The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve [of] male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals.”
Nike has been supportive of gay rights and has promoted a “BeTrue” campaign that features products bearing the rainbow flag.
Pacquiao, 37, seemed to reiterate his sentiments about gay people in social media posts on Monday.
On Tuesday, Pacquiao then returned to social media to apologize for his comments.
“I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals,” the post read. “Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt. I still stand on my belief that I’m against same-sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I’m praying for you.”
Nike’s decision to drop Pacquiao is a bold move from a company that has a mixed track record as far as how it handles athletes who are embroiled in scandal.
Nike famously kept its contract with golfer Tiger Woods after accounts of his infidelity made the news. In 2013, Nike even released an ad campaign featuring Woods’ comeback with the slogan: “Winning takes care of everything.”
When Michael Vick was convicted of dog fighting in 2007, Nike initially dropped him. But, less than five years later, Nike re-signed him, saying he “acknowledged his past mistakes.”
And Kobe Bryant kept his deal with Nike even after he was charged with sexual assault in 2003. The charges were eventually dropped, but Bryant did lose deals with other companies.
But not every athlete has been spared.
After allegations surfaced in 2014 that Adrian Peterson had harshly disciplined his 4-year-old, Nike cut him loose.
That same year, Ray Rice was caught on video attacking his then-fiance in an elevator. Nike quickly ended his contract and removed his jerseys from its website.
In 2012, Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was dropped for his involvement in a doping scandal.
And, Nike distanced itself from longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno when it became clear he had concealed evidence of child sex abuse by his assistant coach. Paterno’s name was scrubbed from a child development center at Nike headquarters in Oregon.