Sponsors Are Abandoning The Clippers After The Donald Sterling Tape Goes Public

Companies are suspending and ending their sponsorship deals with the Los Angeles Clippers in the wake of the Donald Sterling racism scandal.

CarMax and Virgin America have ended their deals, while State Farm, Kia, and AquaHydrate are suspending their partnerships.

CarMax company told the Huffington Post that it’s ending its nine-year partnership with the team:

“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable. These views directly conflict with CarMax’s culture of respect for all individuals. While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for 9 years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship.”

This came hours after Steve Stoute, the CEO of Translation — a marketing company that represents State Farm, Sprite, and others — told ESPN radio’s Colin Cowherd he would urge his clients to suspend their sponsorship deals with the Clippers.

Stoute said he wouldn’t urge them to end deals with individual players — i.e. the Cliff Paul commercials — just the team.

State Farm said that it has suspended its deal with the team and monitoring the situation (via CNBC):

“State Farm strongly supports and respects diversity and inclusion in its workforce and customers. 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 organisation. We are monitoring the situation and we’ll continually asses 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.”

Kia told us that they’re suspending their partnership too:

“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.”

AquaHydrate told BuzzFeed’s Michael Hayes that its relationship with the Clippers has been suspended:

“In the wake of Donald Sterling’s alleged defamatory and intolerable comments we have decided to suspend our sponsorship with the LA Clippers until the NBA completes its investigation. We fully support the players and fans of the LA Clippers and wish them the best in the remainder of the playoffs.”

Virgin America announced that its sponsorship deals has been cancelled.

An Anheuser-Busch spokesperson told ESPN’s Darren Rovell, “We fully support the NBA’s efforts to investigate quickly & trust that they will take appropriate action.”

We’ve contacted some of the team’s other sponsors — Amtrak and Yokohama — and are awaiting their response.

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