MANNY Pacquiao's image took another haymaker after Nike dropped the boxing legend-turned-politician on Thursday for his ‘worse than animals’ comment on gay couples on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The sportswear giant released a statement saying it found the boxing hero’s controversial comments, made in an interview for TV5’s Bilang Pilipino election program, “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,” Nike said in a statement.
Actually, it was not the first time Nike cut its ties with the Filipino boxing hero.
Nike had also dropped the Sarangani congressman as its endorser back in 2012, following similar comments he made then that same sex marriages are against the law of God. And with a devastating loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, many endorsement partners walked away from Pacquiao, including Nike.
However, Pacquiao and Nike forged a new partnership by 2014, where the apparel giant even came out with a Pacquiao line of shirts and hoodies in time for the superbout with Floyd Mayweather Jr in May last year.
According to a report from Forbes.com, sales of the Nike Pacquiao line were modest after the Filipino fighting congressman lost and the fight failing to meet expectations, generating less than $1 million in royalties for the world’s second highest-paid athlete last year.
With the latest fallout from his remarks against same sex marriages, the 37-year-old Pacquiao joined a list of top athletes dropped by Nike after getting embroiled in controversies, joining discredited cycling champion Lance Armstrong and convicted para athlete Oscar Pistorius.
But that has not always been the case between Nike and its other top endorsers. The giant apparel brand didn't terminate the contracts of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and former world No. 1 Tiger Woods when they dealt with personal controversies.
But it’s also fair to note that the major sports brand has turned back from their decision to drop certain athletes following a revival of the certain sports star’s career, and Pacquiao knows it all too well.
Check out how Nike has dealt with its athlete-endorsers in the wake of controversy.
Dropped: Lance Armstrong
After news of Armstrong taking performance-enhancing drugs broke out in 2012, the famous cyclist was stripped of his Tour de France wins. And his endorsement partners started to cut ties with him in less than a week, Nike included. It cited in its statement that they were misled by Armstrong for more than a decade, thus they were terminating their partnership.
Dropped: Ray Rice
In February of 2014, then Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was caught in video dragging his unconscious fiancé (now wife) out of a casino elevator. It took a few months before sponsors started cutting ties with Rice. And after a more detailed video on what happened inside the elevator surfaced in September that year, Nike quickly acted in dropping Rice (cut from the Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL) from its list of endorsers.
Dropped: Adrian Peterson
Another NFL running back found himself in hot water following an assault charge in 2014, this time in Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson who was indicted for reckless or negligent injury to his then 4-year-old son. The charges came out in September that year, leading Nike to suspend its contract with Peterson, before fully terminating it one week after Peterson entered a no-contest plea to the assault case in November.
Dropped: Jon Jones
Nike cut ties with former UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones in late 2014, but the separation was first described by Jones as the result of the brawl with Daniel Cormier during promotions for their fight. However, Jones clarified three months after his initial statement to the Nevada State Athletic Commission that it was instead a mutual separation that was agreed upon months before the brawl happened. “Nike didn’t seem as if they wanted to move forward in the field of MMA,” Jones said, explaining the mutual decision to part ways. He then goes on to add that the brawl just accelerated the separation.
Dropped: Oscar Pistorius
After sprinter Oscar Pistorius was charged of murdering his girlfriend in February 2014, Nike quickly suspended its endorsement deal with the double amputee track star. The trial went on for months before the South African courts found Pistorius guilty of homicide in September that year. Within days, Nike eventually terminated its contract with Pistorius, making 2014 the rare time that the giant sports apparel officially cut ties with four famous endorsers.
Dropped but re-signed: Michael Vick
In 2007, Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons star quarterback at the time, admitted his involvement in dogfighting and was indicted for running the dogfighting ring. Nike acted two days after the indictment, terminating its contract with Vick and cancelling the release of a new Vick shoe, while keeping the existing Vick products on shelves. In a statement, Nike found his actions as “inhumane, abhorrent, and unacceptable.” Vick served jail time before being released in 2009, and revived his NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010 before Nike re-signed him to a new endorsement deal in 2011, a historic act in sports marketing, because they deemed that Vick had already owned up to ‘past mistakes’ and that they ‘support the positive changes’ he’s done off the field.
Stood Pat: Tiger Woods
When then world no. 1 golfer Tiger Woods was rocked with an infidelity scandal late in 2009, many of his endorsements left, including Accenture, Gatorade, and Tag Heuer. One of the major sponsors which stayed was Nike, but not without consequence. A report from Fortune revealed that Woods' $20 million-per year deal was slashed in half for the next two years.
Stood Pat: Wayne Rooney
Another sex scandal hit one of Nike’s top athletes in 2010 when Manchester United star Wayne Rooney was alleged to have cheated on his then pregnant wife with multiple prostitutes. Coca-Cola backed away from their lucrative deal with the striker and so did Tiger Beer. But Nike, who has been with Rooney since 2004, stayed on in support of Rooney, one of Europe’s top soccer stars.
Stood Pat: Kobe Bryant
Fresh from winning his third NBA title, LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant hit a big snag in 2003 when a woman accused him of sexual assault. The rape charge tarnished the emerging star’s image, with major sponsors like Nutella and McDonald’s deciding not to be associated with their former endorser. Nike, though, was one of the few major sponsors which stood by Kobe, whose image at the time was thought to be permanently tarnished by the charge. Nike had then just signed Kobe to a multi-year deal at a reported US$9 million per year. The loyalty Nike has shown to Kobe has paid off well in the long run, as the case has been dismissed and settled while Kobe’s Nike shoes remain one of the brand’s top sellers. Kobe and Nike have even agreed to a $75 million five-year deal in 2014, that will pay the 'Black Mamba' well long after he’s retired.