Nike Ends Manny Pacquiao Endorsement After Derogatory Speech
Nike Inc. has ended its endorsement of Manny Pacquiao after the Filipino boxer made derogatory comments regarding homosexuals.
"We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent," the company said in a statement to Forbes. "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."
Pacquiao, who is currently seeking a Senate position in the Philippines, made comments comparing same-sex relationships and marriages to animals.
"Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?" he said on the broadcast. "If you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relationships], then people are worse than animals."
Pacquiao quickly apologized on Instagram, wearing a Nike shirt with the company's special logo for him.
According to ESPN, Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, understood Nike's decision to drop his client.
"Nike is in the business of selling its products to as wide of an audience as they can, and Manny's comments were insulting to a lot of people," Arum told ESPN. "His comments were made to a Filipino audience, where same-sex marriage is not as accepted as it is here, and Manny is a convert of enlightened Christianity, which does not believe in same-sex relationships. But to people in the United States, his words can only be viewed as hate speech."
Basketball legend Magic Johnson tweeted that he stands behind Nike's move.
I applaud Nike for terminating Manny Pacquiao's contract after his derogatory statements that gay people are worse than animals.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 18, 2016
Nike walked away from Pacquiao in the past, after a rough year in and out of the ring in 2012 when he voiced similar derogatory statements, but the two reunited after Pacquiao's comeback in 2013, launching a line of Pacquio-branded hoodies and T-shirts in April 2015.
According to The New York Times, Pacquiao was the world's second-highest paid athlete last year, raking in $160 million. He earned $12 million in endorsements, licensing and appearances.