Nike drops Manny Pacquiao following inflammatory comments
Manny Pacquiao wore the white hat in the buildup to last year’s Fight of the Century with Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiao was the God-fearing congressman from the Philippines, who had reformed his gambling and womanizing ways. Mayweather abused women and wore the heal label with his Money Mayweather moniker. The fight was a bust in the ring, but the narrative sold with a record 4.6 million pay-per-view buys and $600 million in total revenue.
Now Pacquiao’s religious beliefs are hitting his pocketbook after he said same-sex relationships were “worse than animals” in the middle of a Philippines senate campaign. Sportswear giant Nike NKE +0.66% dropped Pacquiao as an endorser today and released the following statement:
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent. 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.”
This is not the first time Nike dropped Pacquiao as an endorser. Nike did not renew their partnership after it expired at the end of 2012. There were calls for Nike to drop Pacquiao in the first half of that year when he made similar comments about same-sex marriages, but Nike waited to see Pacquiao’s performance in the ring. It wasn’t good. He lost both his fights, including a devastating knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012. Almost all of Pacquiao’s endorsement partners walked away at that point with Pacquiao looking like a shot fighter. Nike walked away too, according to Pacquiao’s camp.
Pacquiao returned to the ring in November 2013 and registered two straight wins, which brought Nike back to the table in the second half of 2014. Nike launched a line of hoodies and t-shirts in April 2015 ahead of the Mayweather bout. Pacquiao’s camp hoped defeating Mayweather would send sales skyrocketing for the Nike line. Instead, Pacquiao had a listless performance against Mayweather, which he blamed on a shoulder injury. Sales of the Nike Pacquiao line have been limited and royalties were expected to generate less than $1 million this year for Pacman.
Pacquiao was the world’s second highest-paid athlete last year with earnings of $160 million thanks to the Mayweather bout. He earned $12 million outside the ring from endorsements, licensing and appearances. The Mayweather fight brought his career earnings to $485 million. Endorsements represent less than 10% of the total. Pacquiao is scheduled to face Timothy Bradley for the third time on April 9. Pacquiao says it will be his final fight so he can concentrate on his political career.
Pacquiao invoked his religion in his first apology regarding his anti-gay comments: “I rather obey the Lord’s command than obeying the desire of the flesh. I’m not condemning anyone, but I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says.”
He followed with a second “apology” delivered via video over social media: “I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt.”
Pacquiao joins other scandal-plagued athletes dropped by Nike including: cyclist Lance Armstrong, running back Adrian Peterson, quarterback Michael Vick, running back Ray Rice and sprinter Oscar Pistorius.