In a recent interview with Examiner.com, the fighter expressed his opposition to President Obama’s support for marriage equality: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
In response, Jacobs stated, “I think that American sponsors are going to have to look very carefully at whether they can continue to pour money into his apparently empty soul. He makes a lot of money thanks to the United States and sponsors here.”
Once the Courage Campaign called for Nike to drop Pacquiao, the Campaign received more than 15,000 signatures in five hours and more than 2,000 likes and 224 comments on Facebook in about 12 hours. #DropManny and #MannyPacquiao became trending topics on Twitter.
The huge public response prompted Pacquiao to revise his statement. “I only voiced out my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God. I’m not against homosexuals. I have a relative who is also gay,” he said. “We cannot do anything if they were born that way. What I do not want is when you disobey the commandment of God.”
After Pacquiao’s apparent shift, Jacobs stated, “I am glad that our swift action forced him to clarify his statement. But it isn’t enough.”
In addition to Nike, Pacquiao has several high-profile sponsors, including Hewlett-Packard and Hennessy. Nike earned a 100 percent rating in the 2012 Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index as a pro-LGBT company and, like other sponsors, might consider it risky to align itself with the boxer’s extreme anti-gay sentiments.
In a recent report by Forbes, Pacquiao was listed as fourth on its list of most influential athletes in the United States this year. He is the world’s highest paid athlete, earning more than $50 million a year in sponsorship endorsements. “Do we want our kids looking up to someone like this?” Jacobs asked.
Jacobs noted that Pacquiao, who lives and trains in Los Angeles, is an elected official in the Philippines and therefore has a personal responsibility to be careful when criticizing President Obama. “I think that it is outrageous that an official of a foreign government is slamming our president’s support for the rights of Americans,” Jacobs stated.
Following Pacquiao’s initial statements, his scheduled appearance on “Extra” was cancelled. Pacquiao was supposed to be interviewed by “Extra” host Mario Lopez at The Grove in Los Angeles.
Bill Reich, spokesman of The Grove, said they had cancelled the event. Reich said that Manny Pacquiao “is not welcome at The Grove and will not be interviewed here now or in the future. The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos and not a place for intolerance.”