U.S. Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles on Saturday panned the new head of USA Gymnastics for a tweet deriding Nike sent around the time the company announced its latest marketing campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
USA Gymnastics hired former Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) this week as its interim president and chief executive in the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandal surrounding former team doctor Larry Nassar. Bono tweeted Sept. 7 about her attendance at a charity golf tournament benefiting military personnel and families, and lamented the presence of Nike golf spikes in her bag.
“Luckily I had a marker in my bag too,” she tweeted along with a photo of her coloring in the white swoosh logo.
Biles, a survivor of Nassar’s abuse, won four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She retweeted Bono’s message with a comment that began, “mouth drop.” She went on to write “don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or sponsors or anything.”
Bono quickly tweeted her “regret” over the comment Saturday evening, saying she "respects “everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them.” Bono promised that the tweet “doesn’t reflect how I will approach” the USA Gymnastics position and said she would “do everything I can to help build, w/ the community, an open, safe & positive environment.”
Nike made Kaepernick the centerpiece of its campaign in early September ahead of the NFL’s first week of games
The former quarterback’s statement, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” has become a rallying cry for civil rights organizers and athletes, including LeBron James, who support Kaepernick’s cause.
Some conservative leaders have called for consumers to boycott the company over its backing of Kaepernick. Two small Christian colleges dropped their apparel deals with Nike because of the campaign.
USA Gymnastics is still reeling from the Nassar scandal, which cost the organization some of its biggest sponsors, including apparel company Under Armour.
Bono filled a position that had been vacant since September, when former USA Gymnastics head Kerry Perry was pushed out after she hired then quickly dismissed a coach who was one of Nassar’s early backers. That caused U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Sarah Hirshland to call for “adjustments in the leadership.”
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