Former world number one, Justin Thomas has lost his sponsorship with The Ralph Lauren Corporation after using a homophobic slur during a televised tournament in Hawaii.
Justin Thomas, who was unaware he could be heard through television microphones, uttered the word after missing a putt for par. He has since expressed his regret, labelling his own actions “inexcusable.”
“First off, I just apologise. I’m an adult. I’m a grown man, there’s absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It’s terrible. I’m extremely embarrassed. It’s not who I am, it’s not the kind of person that I am or anything that I do. Unfortunately, I did it and I have to own up to it and I’m very apologetic. I deeply apologize to everybody and anybody who I offended and I’ll be better because of it.”
Ralph Lauren cuts ties
Ralph Lauren promptly severed ties with the current world number three, despite his apology.
“While we acknowledge that he has apologised and recognises the severity of his words, he is a paid ambassador of our brand and his actions conflict with the inclusive culture that we strive to uphold.”
“As we make this decision, our hope is that Mr Thomas does the hard and necessary work in order to partner with us again — truly examining this incident, learning, growing and ultimately using his platform to promote inclusion.”
Some are even accusing Ralph Lauren of taking these actions purely defensively, instead of making a sincere gesture to defend marginalised groups.
Race and Inequality Editor for US Today Sports, Mike Freeman, said in a recent opinion piece:
“No sincere gesture [by a sponsor] would already allow the possibility of a return to the company just days after such a disgusting incident.
“Ralph Lauren’s statement demonstrates how sports, and key parts of the sports machine, still don’t take homophobia as seriously as they should, and certainly not as serious as racism.”
The US PGA Tour is expected to fine Thomas for the slur after condemning this actions in a recent statement.
“As he expressed after his round, we agree that Justin’s comment was unacceptable.”