HONOLULU (AP) – Ralph Lauren Corp. said Friday he was ending his sponsorship with Justin Thomas after he was heard mumble a homophobic slur after missing a putt last week in Hawaii.
Thomas has been wearing the company’s clothes ever since he turned professional. He briefly reached world No.1 twice, won a major at 24 and won the FedEx Cup in 2017.
In the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, he missed a normal 5-foot putt on the fourth hole. You could hear him say the insult under his breath as he patted.
Ralph Lauren said he was “discouraged” by his language.
“We believe in the dignity of all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, ethnicity, political affiliation or sexual orientation,” Ralph Lauren said in a statement. “Reflecting on the responsibility we have to all of our stakeholders, we have decided to end our sponsorship of Mr. Thomas for now.”
Thomas was on vacation abroad and could not be contacted immediately. He is playing in Abu Dhabi next week on the European tour.
He apologized after that third round and then again on Sunday when he finished a shot out of the playoffs.
“It’s inexcusable,” Thomas said. “First of all, I apologize. I am an adult. I’m a grown man, there’s absolutely no reason for me to say something like that. It is terrible. I am 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 and I have to admit it and I am very sorry.
It ended up costing him dearly.
“While we recognize that he apologized and acknowledges the severity of his words, he is a paid ambassador of our brand and his actions conflict with the inclusive culture we strive to uphold,” the company said. in a press release.
Ralph Lauren said he hopes Thomas “will do the hard and necessary work to partner with us again – by genuinely examining this incident, learning, growing, and ultimately using his platform to promote the inclusion.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LBGTQ advocacy group, named Ralph Lauren “the best place to work for LGBTQ equality” last year.
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