GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Nike has terminated its endorsement deal with Manny Pacquiao in the wake of his anti-gay comments, it was announced Thursday, February 18.
In a statement, Nike denounced the 37-year-old Pacquiao's comments as "abhorrent" and said it is no longer in business with the Filipino boxing legend.
Pacquiao, a two-term congressman who is running for a seat in the Philippine Senate, described couples in same-sex marriage as "mas masahol pa sa hayop" (worse than animals) in a viral video by Bilang Pilipino.
"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."
Pacquiao initially doubled down on his statements, citing scripture in an Instagram post as justification for his views. "I rather obey the Lord's command than obeying the desires of the flesh," Pacquiao wrote on his Instagram account, before issuing an apology in a video on his social media accounts.
"I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt," said Pacquiao, while wearing a Nike shirt. (WATCH: Pacquiao apologizes for calling gay couples more disgusting than animals)
Pacquiao's deal with Nike had produced an iconic line of "Manny Knows" t-shirts, along with sneakers and a billboard along the side of the Tropicana in Las Vegas that read "Do what they say you can't" before his unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr in the most lucrative fight in the sport's history in May 2015.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts) is set to face Timothy Bradley Jr for the third time on April 9 in what Pacquiao says will be the final fight of his career. – Rappler.com