Olympic runner Allyson Felix blasted Nike Thursday for having the gall to ask her to join its “female empowerment” ad campaign at the very same time they were cutting her salary and refusing to add maternity benefits to her contract after the birth of her first child.
The gold medalist with nine golds to her name, recently told Time magazine that her “stomach dropped” when Nike asked her to join its ad campaign to celebrate women in sports and female empowerment.
“I was like, this is just beyond disrespectful and tone-deaf,” Felix told Time.
Felix claims that Nike has a long record of failing to support female athletes once they become pregnant and has blasted the sportswear giant in the past.
The top athlete says that when her contract ran out in December of 2017, she was pregnant. When she tried to negotiate a new contract, Nike countered by saying it would cut her remuneration by a whopping 70 percent.
Felix feels that the cut in pay and refusal to add maternity coverage was Nike’s way of telling her that she could no longer be a top athlete after having her baby.
“Nike sometimes, they feel like you don’t have another option,” she added. “So, they can get away with stuff like that because, where are you going to go? And I think that’s how I was always perceived: ‘She’s never going to say anything. She’s never going to speak out.'”
Despite Nike’s likely worries that she could not regain her speed after having a baby, Felix went on to break Usain Bolt’s gold medal record at the World Athletics Championships only ten months after giving birth via an emergency C-section.
This year, Felix finished second in the 400-meter sprint at the U.S. Olympic trials in June and will compete in her fifth Olympics Games.
Ultimately instead of resigning with Nike, Felix signed a deal with Athleta, a female-focused sportswear company. She also launched her own show and lifestyle brand she labeled “Saysh.”
As to Nike, the company says that since 2017, it has changed its policies for female athletes to take pregnancy and maternity issues more seriously.
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