US sports equipment giant Nike axed Manny Pacquiao after he described gay couples as “worse than animals”, slamming the Filipino boxer’s remarks as “abhorrent.”
A Nike statement said the company had severed its ties with Pacquiao, who triggered a firestorm of controversy with his comments to a Filipino broadcaster earlier this week.
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” a Nike statement said.
“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.”
Nike’s move was welcomed by gay rights campaigners in the Philippines Thursday.
“Philippine LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender)and allied groups plus Nike’s enlightened stand has struck down the fundamentalist posturing of a bigot who wants to be a senator of the land,” said Danton Remoto, head of Ang Ladlad (the Unfurled), a gay rights political party.
Devout Christian Pacquiao, 37, who is running for a seat in his country’s Senate, had issued an apology soon after the controversy erupted.
“I’m sorry for comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt,” Pacquiao said in a video post on Instagram, his arms crossed.
Pacquiao said he was not condemning homosexuals but was standing by his conservative Christian faith.
“I love you all with the love of the Lord. I am praying for you.”
Pacquiao told television station TV5 earlier this week: “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.”
Pacquiao’s comments were greeted with revulsion in the United States, where same-sex marriage is enshrined in law following a historic Supreme Court ruling.
Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete in the NBA, dismissed Pacquiao as “bigoted.”
“I lost all respect for you,” Collins wrote on Twitter (Swiss: TWTR.SW – news) . “Bigoted people like you (& yes you are one) should never hold an office in politics.”
Pacquiao’s long-time rival Floyd Mayweather — who outclassed the Filipino in their money-spinning mega-fight last year — also took aim at the remarks.
“We should let people live their lives the way they want to live their lives. To each his own,” Mayweather was quoted by TMZ Sports as saying.
While homosexuality is not criminalized in the Philippines, gay marriage is outlawed due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church and 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people subscribe to the faith.
But Pacquiao’s remarks angered some of his compatriots.
Singer Aiza Seguerra, who recently married her actress-girlfriend in the US, called on Filipino voters to boycott Pacquiao, who is preparing for his last boxing fight with Timothy Bradley in April (LSE: 0N69.L – news) , calling him an “ignorant, bigoted hypocrite”.
“You just showed the whole country why we shouldn’t vote for you,” Seguerra said in a post on Instagram.
Filipino sports analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz told AFP there was a genuine risk Pacquiao would lose other international endorsement deals following Nike’s action.
“It will hit him in the pocket for sure,” Nathanielsz said.
The Nike endorsement, whose terms were not disclosed, was Pacquiao’s most prominent sponsorship deal.
Forbes.com magazine put his earnings for 2015 at $160 million including $12 million from endorsements (Other OTC: UBGXF – news) .
Trump’s India visit expected to boost exposure of his struggling properties in the country: report
President Donald Trump heads off to India next Monday where his high profile visit may give a boost to his sagging fortunes at some of his properties in a country that happens to be the Trump Organization’s largest foreign market featuring the Trump name.
According to a report from Politico, "President Donald Trump arrives Monday in a country featuring the most Trump properties outside the U.S.The White House hopes the visit will advance trade talks and bolster the president’s standing with Indian-Americans ahead of the 2020 election," adding, "But it’s also a trip that will create attention that could help Trump-branded properties amid a slumping real estate market and slowing economy in India."
Internet buries Meghan McCain for ‘rude and condescending’ Twitter attack on critics of her ‘The View’ antics
On Saturday morning "The View" co-host Meghan McCain snapped back at some of her online critics who complained about her observations and demeanor on the popular ABC show -- which was not received very well as one might expect.
According to conservative commentator -- who also is the daughter of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) -- wrote: "It’s called “The View”... I am paid to give another view. If you’re deeply triggered by a diversity of opinions and want to watch a show where everyone just sits around agreeing with one another on everything, feel free to find a show called “The Same”...."
At Joe Biden’s eleventh-hour rally in Nevada, many union members remain uncommitted
On the eve of the Nevada caucuses, former Vice President Joe Biden, who has referred to himself as "middle-class Joe," had a last-minute chance to connect with middle-class Nevada voters before Saturday's caucuses. At a barbecue with burgers, hot dogs, and ice cream sandwiches, attendees that included firefighters and iron workers gathered for what was advertised as a precinct captain training — or to simply hear Biden's pitch. Indeed, many attendees of the barbecue were still undecided a mere day before caucusing.
This article first appeared in Salon.