Fashion company Ralph Lauren has dropped its sponsorship of American golfer Justin Thomas after he was caught on a live mike uttering a gay slur when he missed a putt during the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
“It’s inexcusable,” Thomas, 27, said on the Golf Channel after his comment was picked up by a course microphone during the Jan. 9 tournament where he was the defending champion.
“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,” he added. “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.”
Ralph Lauren issued a statement Friday saying the company was “disheartened by Mr. Thomas’ 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.”
While the company is dropping the sponsorship “at this time,” the statement added that “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 called Thomas’ outburst “unacceptable.” He’s expected to be fined an undisclosed amount, The Guardian noted.
Thomas shot a 66 that day, missing the playoff by a single stroke. Harris English won the tournament.
Thomas is the winner of 13 PGA Tour events and is currently ranked No. 3 in the world. He has been sponsored by Ralph Lauren since he turned pro in 2013, according to Golf Digest.
There was no immediate response from Thomas about the loss of the sponsorship.