Apparel giant Nike has terminated its relationship with boxer Manny Pacquiao after his recent inflammatory comments about the LGBT community.
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” the statement reads. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
The split comes after a recent TV5 interview in the Philippines, where Pacquiao said gay people were worse than animals:
“It's common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals."
The negative press immediately began pouring in as Pacquiao tried to remedy the situation by issuing an apology via video, however it apparently wasn’t enough to satisfy the folks at Nike:
I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt. God Bless! pic.twitter.com/bqjRcWqp8R
— Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) February 16, 2016
Pacquiao first signed with Nike in 2006, and was one of their most recognizable and beloved brand ambassadors. And now, after a decade, the relationship is over.
Given just how influential a sponsor like Nike is, the question remains: is this just the beginning for Pacquiao? If a company such as Nike can drop one of its more popular spokesmen, who else will follow suit?
Pacquiao is set to meet Timothy Bradley on April 9 in Las Vegas in what will be his last fight. If he keeps losing sponsors, though, he may want to hold off on that planned retirement.
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