After Manny Pacquiao made some extremely controversial remarks about same-sex couples, Nike abruptly ended its endorsement contract with the Filipino boxer.
“Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?” Pacquiao said on a Filipino television station earlier this week, according to ESPN. “If you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relationships], then people are worse than animals.”
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” the company said in a statement according to ESPN. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.” Despite having been endorsed by Nike for more than eight years, Pacquiao has been scratched off the endorsement roster due to his unsettling comments.
Pacquiao quickly apologized on Twitter, “I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals.” He pleaded, “Please forgive me for those I hurt. God bless!” In this tweet, Pacquiao is seen in a video message wearing a Nike shirt with the special Pacquiao logo the company has for him.
While Manny Pacquiao wasn’t one of Nike’s signature or top-tier athletes, Nike benefited from outfitting the high-profile boxer with shorts and shoes that featured swooshes. According to TV by the Numbers, some 4.4 million people tuned into the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight — that’s a lot of eyeballs looking at swooshes. However, Pacquiao items that reached the market were infrequent and scarce, so perhaps Nike didn’t lose much.
According to ESPN, Nike has been terminating contracts more actively than at any other time in history. Like dominoes, the contracts of cyclist Lance Armstrong, running backs Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, and sprinter Oscar Pistorius have been terminated for similar reasons — athletes, like almost everyone else, do wild and unethical things, just look at Ray Rice.
So, was Nike right in terminating the contract? Sound off in the comments below.