“I didn’t say that, that’s a lie. I didn’t know that quote from Leviticus because I haven’t read the Book of Leviticus yet. I’m not against gay people. I have a relative who is also gay. We can’t help it if they were born that way. What I’m critical off [sic] are actions that violate the word of God. I only gave out my opinion that same sex marriage is against the law of God.”
That is a quote from Manny Pacquiao refuting that he never said gay people should be put to death. People who don’t have anything against gay people don’t usually find themselves in the position of having to deny something along those lines. Maybe if he had actually read the bible, he would know it specifically says not to tell other people what is wrong, or what is against God. But this is not the quote that caused Nike to announce they were severing their ties with the athlete yesterday. No, this quote is from May of 2012, regarding an interview Pacquiao gave to conservative tabloid The National Examiner, shortly after President Obama publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. Why didn’t Nike end their endorsement with Pacquiao then? Because Nike doesn’t give a shit about human rights.
I use the word human purposefully — gay rights are human rights, and you either believe in equal rights for everyone, or you don’t understand what equal rights are.
Nike released the following statement yesterday regarding their dropping Pacquiao, following news that he, now infamously, said gay people were “worse than animals”:
“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.”
Oh hell no.
A long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community? Then why didn’t Nike drop him after he made his comments in 2012? Per Forbes’ Kurt Badenhausen, Nike let Pacquiao’s contract expire at the end of 2012, then renewed it halfway through 2014 prior to Pacquiao’s losing to Floyd Mayweather. Their decision then, just like their decision now, is entirely about one thing: money.
It’s not a coincidence that support for same sex marriage is 20 percent higher today than it was in 2012, in the market that Nike derives the largest portion of their revenue from.
According to their last 10Q, Nike makes 48.3 percent of their revenue in North America, while making 12.8 percent in Emerging Markets. While that includes The Phillipines, where Nike is the largest supplier of shoes with a 3 percent market share, the report specifically mentions Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand as responsible for that revenue, while failing to mention the Philippines. According to Badenhausen’s article, Pacquiao-related merchandise is such a poor seller for Nike that “royalties were expected to generate less than $1 million this year” for the disgraced bigot. Nike is an international business and brand; however, their revenue is highly concentrated in things that have absolutely nothing to do with Manny Pacquiao (image property of revenuesandprofits.com.)
Okay, so he wasn’t the biggest revenue generator for a multi-billion dollar corporation, but it doesn’t mean that he was worthless to them, right? And how does them not dropping him in 2012 mean they don’t care about LGBT rights?
Well, Nike has it’s hands in sponsoring some of the worst offenders of human and LGBT rights in the world, and they’re not their largest revenue generators either.
According to Maplecroft’s Human Rights Index, Nigeria is one of the ten worst offenders of violating human rights in the world; Nike sponsors it’s national basketball and national soccer team. Nigeria also managed to make this list of 10 Countries That Completely Hate Gay People, along with Russia, India, China, Singapore, and Turkey, who also ALL have Nike sponsoring their national soccer teams.
Nike also sponsors China’s national basketball team, India’s national cricket team, a Russian basketball team, two Turkish basketball teams, 20 Chinese soccer teams, an Indian soccer team, two Jamaican soccer teams (they’re on there, too), six Russian soccer teams, two Singaporean soccer teams, and six Turkish soccer teams. They also sponsor teams from other such human rights’ champions and/or major revenue generators as Angola, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, among others, where it’s just straight up illegal to be gay.
But wait, Nike has that whole Be True line with the cute rainbow clothes, and those events for LGBT youth athletes, and HRC even lists them in their best places to work. That’s nice, but if Nike really gave a shit about kids, they wouldn’t have manufacturing in China, Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh, four of the five worst violators for human rights in the world, specifically as it pertains to child labor abuses. Yes, they made HRC’s list (we’ll assume it pertains to the American employees, not the Vietnamese kids), but so did half the companies who are also on this list, of American corporations with the largest political contributions. Those red bars show how much money they gave to Republican political candidates, you know, the party whose platform wants to systemically, ideologically, and legislatively discriminate against the LGBT community.
It’s lovely that you’re at least presenting a facade of caring, Nike; it’s a welcome change from 2012, the last time this happened and you ignored it. But do us a favor: stop using the modern equivalent of child slaves to manufacture your clothing and shoes. Stop sponsoring national teams from places gay people are second class citizens. Until then, shut the fuck up.