Nike announced it has dropped Manny Pacquiao in the wake of the boxer’s controversial remarks where he 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.”
Pacquiao, 37, made the incendiary 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.
Pacquiao didn’t immediately back down hours after the interview aired. Pacquiao said on his Facebook page he was “just telling the truth of what the Bible says.”
Manny, what were you thinking, uttering such a stupid, hurtful comment?
But as the furor grew, Pacquiao posted an apology of sorts on Facebook on Tuesday.
“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.”
Pacquiao also served as a pitchman for Wonderful Pistachios and Nestle, although representatives for both companies said they don’t have him under contract currently.
“Wonderful Pistachios is not currently affiliated with Manny Pacquiao nor do his views align with ours,” Wonderful Pistachios spokesperson Jennifer George told USA TODAY Sports. “Wonderful Pistachios stands firmly for diversity and equality and we proudly support marriage equality and inclusion around the world.”
Like Wonderful Pistachios, Nestle worked with Pacquiao as recently as 2015, according to spokesperson Roz O’Hearn.
A petition was launched on Change.org by Rutgers University graduate student Aries Dela Cruz on Tuesday urged Nike to drop Pacquiao.
“Pacquiao’s expressions of homophobia and bigotry disqualifies him from being honored, endorsed and sponsored by one of the world’s largest publicly-traded and owned athletic companies, particularly one that is celebrated and well-known for their promotion of sportsmanship and excellence,” Dela Cruz wrote in the petition that had more than 1,600 signatures as of noon Wednesday.
Activists have also attempted to get the #droppacman hashtag to trend on social media.