Indianapolis, IN – The newest chief executive officer of USA Gymnastics was forced to resign only five days after she started because of an anti-Nike tweet she posted in September.
Interim USA Gymnastics CEO Mary Bono, a former congresswoman, posted a picture of herself using a marker to black out the Nike logo on her golf cleats, according to The Hill.
“Playing in a charity golf tournament raising money for our nation’s Special Forces operators and their families. Unfortunately, had these shoes in my bag. Luckily, I had a marker in my bag too ….” Bono tweeted more than a month before she took the helm of USA Gymnastics.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, who is sponsored by Nike, called Bono out for her tweet on Oct. 13.
“*mouth drop* don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything,” Biles tweeted.
Bono later deleted the tweet, and posted on Twitter that she regretted having made it.
She said the tweet did not reflect how she would handle her duties at USA Gymnastics.
But for many critics, it was too little, too late.
USA Gymnastics is still trying to recover in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal and a poorly chosen CEO who was forced to resign after only nine months earlier this year, The Washington Post reported.
After Biles criticized Bono’s anti-Nike tweet, six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman also raised concerns about the new chief.
Bono previously worked for a law firm that represented former team doctor Larry Nassar who was ultimately sentenced to 40 to 175 years for being a serial child molester, according to The Washington Post.
“My teammates & I reported Nassar’s abuse to USAG in 2015,” Raisman tweeted on Monday. “We now know [the U.S. Olympic Committee] & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels [Bono’s firm] were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?”
On Tuesday, Bono announced she was stepping down from her new job in yet another social media post.
“My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization,” Bono tweeted. “With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine: to mark over on my own golf shoes, the logo of the company sponsoring him for “believing in something even if it means sacrificing everything” – while at a tournament for families who have lost a member of the armed services (including my brother-in-law, a Navy SEAL) who literally ‘sacrificed everything.’’
“It was an emotional reaction to the sponsor’s use of that phrase that caused me to tweet, and I regret that at the time I didn’t better clarify my feelings,” she explained.
“That one tweet has now been made the litmus test of my reputation over almost two decades of public service,” she posted.