news

Pro golfer Justin Thomas loses Ralph Lauren sponsorship over anti-gay slur

Brand says “actions conflict with inclusive culture”

2021-01-19

Words: Jamie Tabberer/ Picture: Instagram/@justinthomas34

Professional golfer Justin Thomas has lost his sponsorship deal with luxury brand Ralph Lauren after he made a homophobic remark during a game.

The world number three has apologised for using the word "f****t" during the third round of the Sentry Tour of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.

His offensive remark, made after he missed a five-foot par putt on his fourth hole, was picked up by a mic.

"Inclusive culture"

Responding to the incident, a Ralph Lauren rep said: "At the Ralph Lauren Corporation, we believe in the dignity of all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, ethnicity, political affiliation or sexual orientation. This is part of our longstanding commitment to foster cultures of belonging – in the workplace and in communities around the world.

"We are disheartened by Mr. Thomas’s recent language, which is entirely inconsistent with our values. While we acknowledge that he has apologized and recognizes 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.

"In reflecting on the responsibility we have to all of our stakeholders, we have decided to discontinue our sponsorship of Mr. Thomas at this time. 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."

"I'm extremely embarrassed"

In his own statement,. Thomas - who has twice been world number one - told Golf Channel: "It’s inexcusable. First off, I just apologize. 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, but unfortunately I did it, and I have to own up to it and I’m very apologetic.

“I’m speechless. It’s bad. There’s no other way to put it. I need to do better. It’s definitely a learning experience. I deeply apologize to everybody and anybody who I offended, and I’ll be better because of it.”

According to Sky Sports, Thomas will likely be fined for conduct unbecoming of a professional. However, the publication adds that the PGA Tour does not make public the specifics of such a punishment.