One of Justin Thomas’ biggest sponsors is sticking with him after his anti-gay slur incident earlier this month, but with a condition.
Citibank said Monday that it would continue its sponsorship deal with Thomas, but that it was going to require he donate a “meaningful portion” of that deal to LGBTQ causes.
“We considered terminating our relationship with him,” chief marketing officer Carla Hassan said in a blog post Monday. “It would send a clear and important message, but we decided to use this moment to work with Justin to try to create change.”
It’s not clear how much that “meaningful portion” actually is, or where it specifically will go.
Justin Thomas caught using anti-gay slur in Hawaii
Thomas, the third-ranked golfer in the world, was heard muttering an anti-gay slur after missing a putt in the third round at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua earlier this month.
He apologized quickly after the round on the Golf Channel, saying his actions were “inexcusable.” The PGA Tour and plenty of others condemned his language in the wake, too.
Ralph Lauren, one of Thomas’ largest and longest sponsorship deals, cut ties with him over the incident a week later.
Thomas has won 13 times on the PGA Tour, and brought home three victories last season at The CJ Cup, the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. The 27-year-old has four top-10 finishes already this season — including a T8 finish at the rescheduled U.S. Open, a fourth-place finish at the rescheduled Masters tournament and most recently his third-place finish at Kapalua.
He most recently missed the cut last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, a European Tour event. It’s not clear when he’ll return to the PGA Tour, though he is not playing this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
Though Hassan said some at Citi were adamant that the bank needed to sever ties with Thomas over the incident, they eventually determined that this course of action could prove more beneficial for everyone in the end.
“So there is no doubt, we strongly condemn the use of this homophobic slur by Justin and anyone else, and our actions now should in no way be interpreted as excusing it or even forgiving it,” Hassan said in the blog.
“This is not about Justin as an individual, but the view that his influence and this moment of public attention create an opportunity to educate many who are not sufficiently attuned to the discrimination the LGBTQ+ community continues to face and how words, actions and inactions perpetuate that discrimination. If at any point we feel that Justin is not sincere in working toward this goal, we will end our relationship with him.”
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