Nike dropped eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao for the second time Wednesday, after his repulsive comments on homosexuality.
During a TV interview Monday with TV5 in the Philippines, he compared homosexuals to animals, saying they were worse. A backlash erupted soon after Pacquiao’s comparisons were made public.
In a statement released by Nike, the company said it “strongly oppose(s) discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community,” and that they wish to no longer have a endorsement relationship with the boxer.
Pacquiao apologized through social media by saying, “I’d rather obey the Lord’s command than obeying the desire of the flesh. I’m not condemning anyone, but I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says.”
On Tuesday, he further apologized to clarify his beliefs, saying, “I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals,” Pacquiao wrote. “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.”
Pacquiao has been with Nike since 2006, and this is not the first time the company dropped him.
After their partnership expired in 2012, they did not renew it. In the beginning of 2012, he made similar comments about same-sex marriages, though Nike wanted to see how he would do in the ring first.
He lost both fights in 2012, and nearly all of his endorsement deals vanished, including the deal with Nike.
But a year later after he had two straight wins, Nike hired him once again. In 2015, Pacquiao was the second highest-paid athlete in the world.
Before the Floyd Mayweather fight he earned $160 million, $12 million outside the ring from endorsements and appearances, and after the fight, earned $485 million.
Pacquiao is scheduled to face Timothy Bradley for the third time April 9 in Las Vegas.
He has said it will be his final fight so he can focus on his political career. He is currently a congressman in the Philippines and he is planning to run for the Philippine senate.
The way his statement on TV5 was conveyed was inappropriate and should have not have been said the way it was.
By comparing human beings to animals, and calling them “worse” than they are, Pacquiao demeaned an entire group of people that Nike has advocated for throughout the years.
A petition to urge Nike to drop him was made by Rutgers University graduate student Aries Dela Cruz through Change.org Tuesday, which had more than 1,600 signatures.
“Pacquiao’s expression of homophobia and bigotry disqualifies him from being honored, endorsed and sponsored by one of the world’s largest publicly-traded and owned athletic companies, particularly one that is celebrated and well-known for their promotion of sportsmanship and excellence,” Dela Cruz said.
Pacquiao’s supporters say he has the right to express his personal beliefs. However Nike also has the right to choose who represents the company.
Nike has removed all traces of Pacquiao in its online stores, including hoodies and T-shirts.
Kudos to Nike for standing up for the beliefs of the company and not supporting bigotry.