Sports brand Nike ended its sponsorship deal with Manny Pacquaio on Wednesday after the Filipino boxer said people who are attracted to the same sex are “worse than animals.”
Pacquaio, a member of the Philippines House of Representatives who is currently running for a Senate seat, made the controversial comments in a local television interview released Monday.
“It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex?” he said. “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.”
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the conservative Christian initially defended the comments: “I rather obey the Lord’s command than obeying the desires of the flesh. Im not condemning anyone, but I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says.”
However, just seven hours later, the former world champion made a follow-up post in which he apologized for hurting the LGBT community.
“I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals,” he 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.”
On Wednesday, Pacquaio sponsor Nike announced it “no longer [has] a relationship” with the boxer.
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in an emailed 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.”