An antigay boxer has been knocked out of at least one merchandise deal.
Nike has severed its relationship with Manny Pacquiao, a Filipino athlete who recently came under fire for saying gay people are “worse than animals.”
The sports retail giant released a statement Wednesday condemning these remarks, and has reportedly already removed merchandise tied to Pacquiao from its online store.
"We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent," the company stated. "Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community."
The statement follows a grassroots movement urging high-profile sponsors like Nike, Footlocker, Sony, and Nestle’s Butterfinger to drop Pacquiao. These endorsement deals have made him the second highest-paid figure in the sports world, according to a recent Forbes ranking.
Previously, Nike did not renew a deal with Pacquiao in 2012 after similiar incendiary comments regarding same-sex marriage.
In his native Philippines, Pacquiao is a conservative lawmaker running for a seat in that overwhelmingly Catholic country’s senate. And in a native language interview seen by Filipino viewers and reported online, he sent a very clear message recently about where he stands on same-sex marriage:
"Woman was made for man, man was made for woman. It's common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish, male or female.
"If we approve male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animal."
Likely responding to the worldwide reaction to his interview, Pacquiao offered a sort-of apology. On Facebook Tuesday, he wrote that he was sorry for "hurting people." "I love you all with the love of the Lord," he added. "God Bless you all and I'm praying for you."
Speaking with the Associated Press, Pacquiao reiterated his prior defenses of his antigay positions, complete with the well-worn "some of my best friends are gay" trope.
"I'm not against the gay people. I’m not condemning them,” Pacquiao told the AP on Tuesday. “I have a cousin (who is) gay. I have relatives (who are) gay. I have a lot of friends (who are) gay, so I'm not condemning gays. What I said is I'm not in favor of same-sex marriage."