A spokesperson for Burger King defended the company’s million-dollar sponsorship of boxer Floyd Mayweather, the highest-paid athlete in the world in 2014, by telling a strange joke to a reporter.
Mayweather has been convicted twice for domestic abuse. The mother of Mayweather’s three children is currently suing him for defamation.
On Saturday, Mayweather walked into the ring for a fight against Manny Pacquiao accompanied by the Burger King mascot and Justin Bieber, the boxer’s close friend and business partner.
Fortune reports that, despite his popularity with fans, companies are wary about associating themselves with Mayweather. The boxer “has three times in a row topped the Fortunate 50, our Sports Illustrated/Fortune athlete earnings list—all with zero outside endorsement deals,” Fortune points out.
Sports Illustrated describes Mayweather as the “most hated athlete in professional sports.”
“It’s difficult to conclude that associating itself with the embattled boxer would be advantageous for Burger King’s brand,” Fortune opines.
So Fortune asked Burger King to comment on why they’re putting money behind an incredibly wealthy boxer who happens to also beat up women.
The company’s reply? “We don’t call him the King for nothing.”
Fortune says the statement’s reference to “King” refers to the company’s royal mascot, not to Mayweather.
Asked for clarification, a Burger King spokesperson told Fortune reporters, “We do not have anything else to contribute at this time.”
Watch Mayweather approach the boxing ring with his entourage, including the Burger King mascot: