State Farm and CarMax announced Monday they are suspending their sponsorships of the Clippers amid mounting uproar over racist comments team owner Donald Sterling allegedly made in recordings between him and a female friend that sparked a firestorm over the weekend.
Two websites posted over the weekend recordings that they identify as a conversation between Sterling and V. Stiviano. A person the websites identified as Sterling can be heard castigating her for associating with black people — even though Sterling's team and the league it plays in are 80% African American.
In a statement Monday, CarMax called the remarks attributed to Sterling "completely unacceptable."
"These views directly conflict with CarMax’s culture of respect for all individuals," the Virginia-based company said. "While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for nine years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship."
A lawyer for the woman, Stiviano, said Sunday that the tapes were "legitimate" and that they came from a conversation that was roughly an hour long. The lawyer said his client didn't leak the recording to the media.
The comments set off a firestorm, and the NBA has said its investigation into the matter should be completed this week. Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, however, called for a third-party independent review Monday to determine whether Sterling violated any nondiscrimination laws as part of his tenure with the team.
State Farm also issued a statement announcing that it was suspending its sponsorship of the team, although appeared to leave the door open to a future relationship.
Calling the remarks made in the audio recording "offensive," State Farm said it was "taking a pause in our relationship" with the Clippers.
"We are monitoring the situation and we’ll continually assess our options," the company said.
Sterling has not publicly addressed the audio recordings, which were made public by TMZ and Deadspin.
Other corporations Monday were also announcing plans to suspend ties with the Clippers.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, hailed the decisions by State Farm and CarMax to pull their sponsorships, saying in a statement that he looked forward to other companies to "do the right thing and follow suit."
"Corporations have a choice. They can either continue aligning with Donald Sterling, or stand up and end their association with Sterling and his racist, dehumanizing language and actions," he said.
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