PGA Tour

Ralph Lauren ends Justin Thomas' sponsor deal after anti-gay slur

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
American golfer Justin Thomas
American golfer Justin Thomas
Getty Images

American fashion giant Ralph Lauren Corp. dropped its sponsorship of world number three golfer Justin Thomas on Friday, six days after his homophobic slur was picked up by television microphones.

Thomas apologised the next day for his "terrible" and "inexcusable" remark, but in a statement on Friday, the New York-based apparel firm said that his words could not be associated with their brand.

"We believe in the dignity of all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, ethnicity, political affiliation or sexual orientation," the Ralph Lauren statement said.

"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."

Thomas, a 27-year-old American, uttered the anti-gay slur on the fourth hole of his third round at the PGA Tournament of Champions in Hawaii after missing a five-foot par putt, causing an immediate stir on social media.

"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," Ralph Lauren said.

"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."

Thomas, who won a major title at the 2017 PGA Championship, finished third in the event, which he had won in 2020.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
41% - 12478 votes
12% - 3725 votes
19% - 5660 votes
3% - 788 votes
1% - 299 votes
2% - 711 votes
5% - 1549 votes
8% - 2546 votes
3% - 1055 votes
Water sports
1% - 275 votes
American sports
1% - 390 votes
3% - 1016 votes