Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas

Photo credit: PGATour.com

What was the accusation?

Professional golfer Justin Thomas was caught by television microphones using a homophobic slur during the third round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Thomas won multiple tournaments throughout the world including the 2017 PGA Championship, considered a “major” in the sport and the $10 million first prize check for the FedEx Cup.  At 27 years old, Thomas was ranked among the best players in the world which secured him adoration from golf fans and the media as well as lucrative endorsements. Thomas was informed shortly after he finished his round that a hot mic had picked up his slur. The derogatory statement became a leading story inside and outside the golf world.  The PGA Tour has not publicly commented or impose punishment, but it is likely Thomas will be fined at some point. However, Ralph Lauren, a sponsor with whom Thomas had been a representative since 2013, terminated its contract with him.  A statement issued by Ralph Lauren read in part, “At the Ralph Lauren Corporation, we believe in the dignity of all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, ethnicity, political affiliation or sexual orientation. This is part of our longstanding commitment to foster cultures of belonging in the workplace and in communities around the world. We are disheartened by Mr. Thomas’ recent language, which is entirely inconsistent with our values.”

Key Apologia Strategies:

 Mortification, Bolstering



The Golf Channel Todd Lewis: “Our microphones picked up and Justin is joining us now. How would you explain what happened on the golf course today Justin?”

Justin Thomas: “Uh, it’s, it’s inexcusable. I, I first off, I just apologize. I mean, um, there’s no excuse. I’m an adult. I’m a grown man. There’s absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It’s uh, it’s terrible, I mean, I’m extremely embarrassed.  It’s not who I am. It’s not the kind of person, um that I am or anything that I, uh, I do, but it’s, uh, unfortunately, I did it and I have to own up to it and I’m very apologetic.”

The Golf Channel Todd Lewis: “We learned a lot through adversity. I know it’s not been a long time and you’re still digesting this but what do you think you’re going to learn from today?”

Justin Thomas: “Um, a lot, I mean it’s, it’s like I said it’s inexcusable. I mean, I’m speechless. There’s nothing I, is, I found out when I got done on the golf course, or when I got done with my round. I mean it’s, it’s, it’s bad. There, there’s no other way to put it, um, I need to do better. I need to be better. It’s definitely a learning experience but, um, yeah, I, I just I deeply apologize to everybody and anybody who I offended and um, and I’ll be better because of it.”

The Golf Channel Todd Lewis: “Appreciate you stopping by to express that.”


Digital, G. C. (2021, January 9). Justin Thomas after using homophobic slur: “I deeply apologize…I’ll be better’. Retrieved from Golf Channel: https://www.golfchannel.com/news/justin-thomas-after-using-homophobic-slur-i-deeply-apologize-ill-be-better

Dotson, K., & Sinnott, J. (2021, Janaury 15). Justin Thomas apologizes for using ‘inexcusable’ anti-gay slur. Retrieved from CNN Sports: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/10/golf/justin-thomas-anti-gay-slur-apology-spt-intl/index.html

Lonsdorf, K. (2021, January 10). Golfer Justin Thomas Apologizes For Uttering Homophobic Slur During Major Tournament. Retrieved from NPR: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/10/955435569/golfer-justin-thomas-apologizes-for-uttering-homophobic-slur-during-major-tourna

Rapaport, D. (2021, January 15). Ralph Lauren ‘discontinues’ sponsorship of Justin Thomas after slur caught on microphone. Retrieved from Golf Digest: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/ralph-lauren-justin-thomas-homophobic-slur