Donald Sterling: Sponsors Pull Out And More In Aftermath Of Alleged Racist Rant
The fallout of Donald Sterling's racist rant in which he allegedly told ex-girlfriend V. Stivliano not to bring black people to his games or pose with them on Instagram—including in particular Magic Johnson—spreads as advertisers continue to drop their sponsorship of the L.A. Clippers.
CarMax, Virgin Airlines, State Farm, Kia, Red Bull, Amtrak and AQUAHydrate have all pulled their dollars from the team, and most have issued statements against Sterling's remarks:
Virgin America said in a statement:
“While we continue to support the fans and the players, Virgin America has made the decision to end its sponsorship of the L.A. Clippers.” “The comments allegedly made by Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, are offensive and reprehensible, and they are inconsistent with our views and values. We are suspending our advertising and sponsorship activations with the Clippers. Meanwhile, as fans of the game of basketball, our support of the players and the sport is unwavering.”
According to a State Farm statement:
"The remarks attributed to the Clippers' owner are offensive. While those involved sort out the facts, we will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization. We are monitoring the situation and we'll continually assess our options. We have a great relationship with Chris Paul and will continue supporting the Born to Assist advertising campaign involving Chris and now other NBA players."
In addition to Clippers players wearing their jerseys inside out in protest at yesterday's game, fans also got in on the action.
This tweeted photo showed fans making fun of Sterling with signs.
Magic Johnson, whose presence in a photo on Stivliano's Instagram account started the leaked argument, appeared on ESPN to say that Sterling should absolutely sell the team.
Sterling also lost his opportunity to be honored at the NAACP's 100th anniversary gala banquet on May 15. NAACP Interim President CEO Lorraine Miller announced the cancellation of the awards and issued the following statement in a press release on Sunday:
“The remarks attributed to Mr. Sterling are outrageous and remind us that racism is alive and well at every socioeconomic level. With the election of President Obama, many were sold the idea that the United States would be instantly transformed into a post racial society and racism would be eviscerated. People who bought that idea were sold wolf tickets."
Rev. Al Sharpton, who will be receiving an award at the gala, said today that he will be urging any companies that work with the Clippers and the NBA to cut ties until Sterling is out.
Sterling may be attempting to weasel out of responsibility by saying the tape may not be accurate, but it appears Stiviano may have over 100 hours of potentially damning audio.
Sterling also appeared at a downtown Los Angeles steakhouse with his estranged wife, Rochelle Sterling, on Sunday, hours after she released a statement calling his statements on the tape "despicable." TMZ reported that she screamed at a photographer that Sterling was not racist before driving away with him. Rochelle Sterling is currently filing a suit against Stiviano, claiming that the younger woman targets rich, older men and acquired multiple luxury vehicles, a $1.8 million condo and $240,000 in cash via fraud from Sterling. Stiviano says these items are gifts.
In the most recent update, Stiviano appeared today wearing a visor and carrying a briefcase to the L.A. County District Attorney's office, according to TMZ.
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Sterling had reached out to Doc Rivers, but the Clippers head coach declined to talk to him. Rivers issued a statement today on the Sterling comments, according to City News Service:
"I would like to reiterate how disappointed I am in the comments attributed to (Donald Sterling) and I can't even begin to tell you how upset I am and our players are. Today, I had a meeting with the members of our organization. When you are around all these people, you realize they are just as upset and embarrassed by the situation and it does not reflect who they really are. That was what I got from all of them. They are now a part of this and they are upset at this. But, they are all going to hang in there and so are we—I can tell you that as a group and as a team. From our fans' standpoint, I want to say that they have been amazing, I can tell you that. We need unbelievable support right now from other people and I'm hoping we get that. My hope is that whatever the fans do, it is as one. I think that is what we all should do."
On the NBA side, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is expected to make an announcement about Sterling's alleged rant as well as comment on the investigation into the issue in a press conference on Tuesday at 11 a.m PT in New York, reported Sports Illustrated.
And in an interesting turn of events, sources close to Stiviano told TMZ that her relationship with Sterling has always been professional and that he is not her boyfriend. They said that Stiviano claimed she was just an "archivist" for Sterling and also worked on a Clippers charity.
More sponsors yanked their ads from the team, including Yokohama Tire Corp and Mercedes-Benz, reported USA Today. Amtrak is working to remove any remaining parts of a sponsorship they had with the Clippers in a contract that had expired at the end of the regular season. It's not clear, however, if Anheuser-Busch and Corona beer will be completely cutting ties with the Clippers as sponsors. Anheuser-Busch said in a statement:
"As the official beer of the NBA, we are disappointed to hear the alleged recent comments attributed to L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. While Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light are not team sponsors of the L.A. Clippers, we fully support the NBA's efforts to investigate quickly and trust that they will take appropriate action."