Red Bull, CarMax, Kia, And Virgin America Among Businesses Pulling Sponsorship Of Clippers After Owner’s Racist Comments

Nearly every company listed as a sponsor for the Los Angeles Clippers have ended or suspended their sponsorship of the team following Donald Sterling’s alleged racist remarks.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

2. UPDATE — April 30, 8:15 p.m. EST: Yokohama Tire Corporation tells BuzzFeed that it has reached an agreement with the Clippers and the sponsorship of the team will be immediately reinstated.


“Yokohama applauds NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s leadership and actions by banning Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life from any association with the team or NBA,” said Andrew Briggs, YTC director, marketing and product planning. “With the Clippers’ agreement, we have found a way to continue moving forward and give back to the community and our fellow Clipper fans.”

Yokohama said that half of the 2014 NBA playoff sponsorship funds will be donated to charitable organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts.

3. Update — April 29, 5:34 p.m. ET: Shortly after suspending their sponsorship, Adidas reinstated it when Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life.


Adidas spokeswoman Lauren Lamkin told the Wall Street Journal that their sponsorship includes “rights to signs around the Staples Center, Jumbotron displays and other promotional material.” For tonight’s game, Adidas will replace its ads and logos with Clippers’ logos and the slogan “We Are One,” which the team has adopted in response to Sterling’s comments.

A spokeswoman for Ford told BuzzFeed they are going to “revisit” their sponsorship.

The Southern California Ford Dealers applaud the NBA commissioner’s decision and will revisit our direction with the LA Clippers based on this action.

Mandalay Bay Hotel’s President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Bowling told BuzzFeed in a statement they will continue their suspension and are now “monitoring the situation.”

Mandalay Bay finds the comments attributed to Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling to be shocking and appalling. We have suspended our advertising and sponsorship relationship with the Clippers’ organization and we are monitoring the situation. We continue to wish the players, coaches and fans all the best in the playoffs.

4. A number of corporate sponsors have decided to pull or suspend their support for the Los Angeles Clippers in response to racist remarks Donald Sterling allegedly made.


The NBA will hold a press conference on Tuesday about its investigation involving Sterling, but in the meantime the fallout over the remarks continued.

BuzzFeed reached out to sponsors on Monday. Following are their responses:

Corona has decided to suspend their sponsorship, despite earlier today saying they were reviewing their agreement with the team, spokeswoman Emily Reynolds told BuzzFeed:

Like everyone else, Corona is appalled by the comments allegedly made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. These comments run counter to the type of brand Corona aspires to be. Because of this, we are suspending our sponsorship agreement with the Clippers until the NBA completes its investigation.

Red Bull says it is suspending all team marketing activities with the Clippers. Red Bull sent BuzzFeed the following statement:

We trust and respect the NBA’s process to formally investigate the matter, and in the interim, are suspending all team-related marketing activities. We will continue to support our Red Bull athlete, Blake Griffin, his teammates and coaching staff in their pursuit of an NBA title.

CarMax was first to pull away from the Clippers. CarMax sent BuzzFeed the following statement:

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.

Southern California-based performance water brand, AQUAhydrate, is also suspending its relationship with the Clippers and issued the following statement:

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 is ending its relationship with the Clippers, a rep for the airline confirmed to BuzzFeed.

Car manufacturer Kia is suspending its advertising and sponsorship of the team, CNBC reported.

Sprint said Monday that it is suspending marketing activities with the Clippers, saying in statement: “We deplore the reprehensible comments expressed in the audiotape.”

Following conflicting reports it was pulling sponsorship, State Farm said it is a “taking a pause” in an official 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.

LoanMart confirms to BuzzFeed it is suspending its partnership with the Clippers. It pulled the team’s logo from its website this afternoon and the auto title loans company posted the following statement on Facebook:

The statements allegedly made by Donald Sterling are completely inconsistent with the views and ethics of the LoanMart organization.

As a result, LoanMart is suspending our advertising and sponsorship activities for the Los Angeles Clippers for the time being and will continue to monitor the situation for further developments. We want to emphasize our continued support for the Clippers players, coaching staff and fans during this difficult time.

Amtrak’s partnership with the Clippers expired at the end of the regular season and the company said it will continue to monitor the situation as it makes sponsorship decisions for 2014–15:

Amtrak believes the language used is unacceptable and is inconsistent with our corporate belief to treat everyone with integrity and dignity. Our sponsorship with the LA Clippers expired at the end of the regular season a few weeks ago. As with any sponsorship advertising, some assets remain in market – to that end we are diligently working to remove all sponsorship assets. Moving forward, we will continue to monitor the situation as we look to make decisions about 2014-15 sports marketing sponsorships.

Lumber Liquidators tells BuzzFeed in a statement that the hardwood flooring retailer is also suspending its relationship with the Clippers:

In light of the racist comments allegedly made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Lumber Liquidators is suspending all planned advertising for the team’s 2014-2015 season until further notice.

A Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman also told The Huffington Post that it “has moved to cease its sponsorship of the Clippers effective immediately.”

The league’s official beer sponsor, Anheuser-Busch, provided the following 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.

Yokohama Tire Corporation is also suspending their sponsorship, Director of Marketing and Product Planning Andrew Briggs told BuzzFeed in a statement.

Yokohama Tire Corporation does not tolerate discrimination in any fashion. The alleged remarks by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling are completely unacceptable and we find it necessary to immediately suspend our sponsorship of the organization as a result. We will continue to assess the situation and weigh our options. Meanwhile, we wish to express our continued support to the Clippers players and fans.

Commerce Hotel & Casino sent BuzzFeed the following statement saying it was suspending relationship with the team:

The Commerce Hotel & Casino has enjoyed being a sponsor of the LA Clippers for the past eighteen years. The arena experience for fans and the reputation the team has maintained is why we have aligned with the franchise. We know the NBA is reviewing the matter and we expect the NBA will quickly provide its findings and explain any action it will take. At this time, we are suspending our relationship with the LA Clippers pending the outcome of that review.

Southern California Ford dealers association told BuzzFeed it has suspended its affiliation with the Los Angeles Clippers indefinitely:

Due to the current circumstances, the Southern California Ford Dealers are suspending their affiliation with the Los Angeles Clippers organization indefinitely. We will continue our support of the Clippers players and fans and wish the team continued success in the playoffs.

Adidas followed suit Tuesday, telling CNBC it is suspending its current marketing with the Clippers.

Karina Diehl, a spokeswoman for Miller Lite, told BuzzFeed the company is “kind of assessing everything right now,” but added that they “aren’t actually an “official sponsor of the team.”

Correction: A previous version of this post said all of the sponsors had been accounted for, but at that time Miller Lite, Mandalay Bay Resort, Ford and Commerce Casino had yet to weigh in on their Clippers sponsorship.

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