Nike ended its sponsorship deal with Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday after the Filipino boxer made anti-gay statements earlier this week.
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” the athletic wear 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.”
The 37-year-old boxing champion is a member of the Philippines House of Representatives and is now running for a seat in the Senate. He made the disparaging comments during a local television interview released Monday.
“It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex?” Pacquiao said in the interview. “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.”
“I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals,” he said in the post. “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.”
As ESPN noted, Nike has not shied away from terminating sponsorship deals with controversial athletes. In the last four years, the Oregon-based sports giant has canceled deals with cyclist Lance Armstrong, sprinter Oscar Pistorius and NFL stars Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
Pacquiao’s defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather last May was the most lucrative fight in the history of professional boxing. Pacquiao’s fight in April against Timothy Bradley is expected to be his last, according to ESPN.