Nike Drops Boxer Manny Pacquiao for Homophobic Comments

Manny Pacquiao on July 10, 2015, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

On Monday, news broke that world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao has a rather low opinion of gay people. Specifically, he thinks they are “worse than animals.” The athlete and politician, who is currently engaged in campaigning for a spot in the Philippine senate, offered his thoughts to a local news outlet—and by extension the entire Internet. Here’s the Guardian’s translation:

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 was quickly condemned, both by LGBTQ activists and fellow sportsmen. Floyd Mayweather, himself not a paragon of LGBTQ friendliness, told TMZ: “I think we should stay positive and I think we should let people live their lives the way they want to live their lives.” Though Pacquiao tried to walk the comments back on Tuesday in a tweet apologizing for the animal comparison but maintaining his religious opposition to same-sex marriage, the damage appears to have been done.

Following a well-worn tactic that calls on corporations to bring associated athletes and celebrities into line, a Change.org petition (approaching 4,000 signatures at the time of writing) targeted Nike, with whom Pacquiao has been associated since 2006. The petition, undoubtedly working alongside plenty of independent pressure on the openly LGBTQ-supportive company, did the job. On Wednesday afternoon, Nike dropped the boxer. “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” the company said 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. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”

For all of Pacquiao’s common sense, you’d think he’d understand that statements like this are, in 2016, not a smart way to maintain favor with fans or the brands that pay your bills. But hey, what does a sub-animal like me know?