Last Wednesday, Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton, was widely criticized for his sexist remarks made toward female reporter Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. During a press conference, Rodrigue asked Newton about the passing routes of receiver Devin Funchess, displaying a great deal of technical insight and knowledge about the game. Newton’s response was laughter.
Newton claimed that it was funny “to hear a female talk about routes like that.” His degrading comment was highly criticized all around the world on a multitude of social media platforms. Rodrigue stood up to the former MVP quarterback and took to Twitter, writing, “I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job.”
In addition to the incredible backlash from the internet, one of Newton’s sponsors, Dannon, the maker of Oikos yogurt, released a statement explaining it will be no longer working with the quarterback.
“We are shocked and disheartened at the behavior and comments of Cam Newton towards Jourdan Rodrigue, which we perceive as sexist and disparaging to all women. It is entirely inconsistent with our commitment to fostering equality and inclusion in every workplace.” Michael Neuwirth, Dannon’s senior director of external communications, said. “It’s simply not OK to belittle anyone based on gender.”
Newton released an official apology to Rodrigue, but only after being dropped by Dannon. Besides getting interviewed on multiple news stations to acknowledge his mistake and explain that he never meant to make sexist remarks, Newton arrived in Detroit for his game against the Lions this Sunday sporting a Rosie the Riveter pin. This is an obvious attempt to help recover his reputation and avoid being dropped by more sponsorships.
Currently, Newton has only been dropped by Dannon. His other sponsorships include Gatorade, Beats by Dre, Forbes, Carolina’s HealthCare Systems and Electronic Arts and a collaboration with Under Armour, which is the company’s current top-selling football cleat. This popular cleat may be the reason that Newton’s relationship with Under Armour is still intact, but it would be to no one’s surprise if he lost more sponsorships in the coming days.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 10 print edition. Email Nalani Ogawa at [email protected]