Nike Inc, the world’s largest sportswear maker, said it had ended its contract with Manny Pacquiao after the Filipino boxer described gays as “worse than animals”.

“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” a Nike spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. The sportswear company also said it opposes discrimination and supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Nike’s decision comes a day after an online petition was launched urging the company to stop Pacquiao endorsing its products. The petition on change.org has garnered more than 3,000 signatures so far.

The remarks drew fire from on social media. “I lost all respect for you,” wrote Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, wrote on Twitter. “Bigoted people like you (& yes you are one) should never hold an office in politics.”

“It’s just common sense. Do you see any animals of the same sex mating? Animals are better off, they can distinguish between male and female,” Pacquiao told TV5 on Monday. “Now if men are mating with men and women with women, then they are worse than animals,” he said.

The 37-year old congressman, among those favoured to win a Senate seat at the May elections based on independent pollsters’ surveys, apologised on Tuesday.

“I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt,” Pacquiao said in a video message on his Twitter account. He said he remained against same-sex marriage.

On his Facebook page, Pacquiao also said he remains against same-sex marriage, while insisting that he is “not condemning” LGBT people. “God Bless you all and I’m praying for you,” he wrote. 

Here’s what people have got to say about him: