Donald Sterling fallout: Sponsors flee the Clippers after alleged racist tirade
Most of the Clippers' major sponsors including CarMax and Virgin America have jumped ship after an audio recording allegedly of team owner Donald Sterling making racist comments surfaced Friday night.
Used car chain CarMax announced it would be dropping its sponsorship after nine years, while insurance carrier State Farm in a statement said it would be "taking a pause in our relationship with the organization."
In a similar vein, Kia said in a statement that it would be suspending our "advertising and sponsorship activations with the Clippers."
Marc Edelman, a professor at Baruch College who studies the business of sports, said that the companies are protecting their own brands by avoiding "negative brand equity" surrounding the Clippers.
But "there may be some brands, above and beyond the bottom line, who just no longer wanted any association with this type of dinosaur behavior," he said.
CarMax and StateFarm were among the first to announce their decisions, and by the end of the day at least a dozen companies had done so. The Southern California Ford Dealers issued this statement:RELATED: Donald Sterling: NBA hires audio forensics expert to review recording
Late Monday, Mercedes-Benz USA told the Associated Press that its dealerships are ending their sponsorship of the Clippers in the wake of Sterling's alleged comments.
Some of the companies declared their positions on social media. LA-based water brand AQUAhydrate announced via Twitter that it would be suspending its sponsorship pending a probe into Sterling's alleged remarks.
Even as they distanced themselves from the teams, companies said they would continue to support the individual players they sponsor. For example, State Farm spoke of its "great relationship" with Clippers' All-Star point guard Chris Paul and that it would continue to run the "Born to Assist" advertising campaign. The ubiquitous ads feature Paul playing himself and a fictional long-lost twin brother, Cliff Paul, a State Farm agent.
This story has been updated.