World-famous fashion brand Ralph Lauren has sensationally dropped its sponsorship of golf star Justin Thomas after he was caught on a microphone uttering a homophobic slur during a recent tournament.
Thomas, a 13-time PGA Tour winner and current world number three, was playing the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii last week when he was caught on a live microphone uttering the slur to himself after missing a five-foot putt on the fourth hole.
After the incident, and following the completion of his round, 27-year-old Thomas fronted up and apologized for his inappropriate outburst.
“It’s inexcusable,” he told the Golf Channel.
“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.”
Responding to the incident, Ralph Lauren issued a statement, saying that it was “disheartened” by the language Thomas used on course.
“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,” their statement began.
“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.”
The PGA Tour also responded, issuing a short statement to Golf Digest following the incident, saying, “As he expressed after his round, we agree that Justin’s comment was unacceptable.”