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Yet another sponsor drops deal with disgraced golfer Justin Thomas after homophobic slur

Emma Powys Maurice February 13, 2021
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Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas plays a shot at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on 20 January, 2021 (Warren Little/Getty)

Whisky brand Woodford Reserve has become the latest sponsor to ditch the disgraced golfer Justin Thomas after he blurted out a homophobic slur live on air.

The world number three golf star was heard angrily muttering the slur “faggot” at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on 9 January. He was promptly dropped by his main sponsor Ralph Lauren, whose clothing he’d worn since he turned pro.

His fall from grace continued on Friday (12 February) as Brown-Forman, the company that owns Woodford Reserve, confirmed it would not renew Thomas’ contract when it expires in April.

In an internal email seen by WDRB, Brown-Forman outlined its efforts to help Thomas learn more about LGBT+ issues and understand the harm his comment caused.

It offered to refer him to “national and local organisations that work to end discrimination against LGBT+ people and other ways in which Justin can make himself part of the solution”.

The Kentucky-based brand, which had sponsored Thomas since 2015, has now suspended all shipments of Woodford Reserve Justin Thomas personal selection bottles.

It added: “We are also reviewing and updating all sponsorship agreements to ensure that they make clear our expectations for respect – that it is a core value at Brown-Forman and must be visible in not only how we represent ourselves, but also in those we choose to represent our brands.”

Brown-Forman is consistently recognised by the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for its LGBT-inclusive policies and practices, and has received a perfect score of 100 for the last 11 years for these efforts.

Justin Thomas apologised profusely for using the homophobic slur, which slipped out when he botched a five-foot putt on the fourth hole.

“There’s just no excuse,” he admitted to Reuters. “There’s absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It’s terrible. It’s not the kind of person that I am. I need to do better. I deeply apologise to anyone and everybody who I offended and I’ll be better because of it.”

He has since promised to undergo a training programme to “become a better person”, vowing to prove to his fans and sponsors that he is not homophobic.

 

Related topics: golf, homophobic slur, Justin Thomas

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