MANILA – A row sparked by boxer Manny Pacquiao’s comments on gay marriage has damaged the world champion, but has not so far affected any of his mega-buck endorsement deals, his spokeswoman said Friday.
Pacquiao told a US website this week he was opposed to same-sex unions, in an article that erroneously suggested the Philippine superstar had quoted a biblical passage calling for gays to be put to death.
Despite Pacquiao denying he had quoted the verses from Leviticus — and the interviewer admitting he had inserted the line himself — there were calls for sports manufacturers to drop the eight-division champion.
“The misquote had a huge effect. A lot of people spoke out against it,” Pacquiao’s spokeswoman Rose Tamayo told AFP.
“There was even one group that came out to campaign for Nike to drop him,” she said, referring to the US sports goods giant.
“So far not one (endorsement deal) had been cancelled,” she added.
Following the controversy over the blog, which came after US President Barack Obama came out in favour of gay marriage, Pacquiao was banned from an upmarket Los Angeles shopping mall where he was due to give a TV interview.
Nevertheless, Tamayo said Pacquiao, who was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in 2010, took a big hit.
“If I had hurt anyone I offer my apologies,” Pacquiao, a 33-year-old father of four, said in an interview aired by Manila television station GMA on Friday.
“I was asked about my stand, whether I was in favour of gay marriage or not. I said I am against gay marriage and I believe in God. That was all I said.”
Naomi Fontanas, head of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines, said the Pacquiao apology was not enough.
“It doesn’t change the fact that Manny is not supportive of the equal rights of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community,” Fontanas told AFP.
Tamayo said that the flap had not affected Pacquiao’s training ahead of the defence of his World Boxing Organisation welterweight title against American Tim Bradley on June 9.
Pacquiao, formerly known for enjoying late-night parties, womanising and gambling, has become a devout Catholic and now reads the Bible every day, she said.
“The congressman is a patient person, even if people say bad things about him. He resorts to prayer.”
Forbes.com magazine on Wednesday put Pacquiao at number-33 on its Top 100 list of the world’s “most powerful celebrities”, putting his total earnings at $67 million.
“Pacquiao has become a pay-per-view stud with five fights each generating at least one million PPV (pay per view) buys during the past four years,” it said.
“Pacman has expanded his endorsement reach by signing deals with Monster Energy and Hennessy. Other partners include Nike and Hewlett-Packard.”