Nike terminated its endorsement contract with boxer Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday after he made derogatory remarks about same-sex couples.
Pacquiao, 37, made the comments in a television interview that ran Monday in his native Philippines. He’s currently a member of the House of Representatives and is running for the country’s senate. In the interview, Pacquiao said those in gay relationships “are worse than animals.”
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” Nike said Wednesday in a statement. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.”
Tuesday, Pacquiao posted an apology on Facebook.
“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.”
On Thursday, Pacquiao said he respects Nike’s decision to drop him but stands by his opposition to same-sex marriage and added that he is happy that “a lot of people were alarmed by the truth.”
Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, said he understood Nike’s decision to end the deal.
“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.com. “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.”
Pacquiao posted bible verses on his Instagram account earlier today which is sure to keep the firestorm going:
Leviticus 20:13 “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Luke 6:22-23 “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.”
The posts were later removed.
Pacquiao is not the first athlete to express his views publicly on same-sex relationships. Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins said earlier this year, “I pray for them (homosexuals) and we cannot discriminate. We are all sinners.”
Pacquiao’s comments packed a stronger punch than other athletes who have spoken out against the LGBT community. His comments were degrading and divisive.
The first thing that came to mind when I saw Pacquiao’s comments flash across the bottom of my television screen were with the words a wise ole preacher told me when I became a Christian.
He sat me down and said, “Be known for what you are for, and not for what you are against. You’ll touch far more for Christ that way.”