The controversy surrounding L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's allegedly racist remark is now spreading beyond the team.
McDonald's, the nations' largest fast food chain by sales, said that it will yank its planned advertising from the national telecast of tonight's Game 5 of the NBA Playoff series between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors on TNT.
"While we are not team sponsors, we are currently suspending all advertising associated with the L.A. Clippers until the NBA issues the results of their investigation," said Max Gallegos, a marketing director for McDonald's. New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to present the findings of the league's investigation of Mr. Sterling during a press conference Tuesday afternoon in New York at 2 p.m. Sources expect Mr. Silver to suspend Mr. Sterling for months, maybe over a year, and levy heavy fines as well.
Separately, Burger King is suspending its team sponsorship of the Clippers, according to Burger King representative Alix Salyers.
"Burger King has a long history of dedication to diversity and inclusion and we object to the comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. We support the players in the NBA and have suspended further sponsorship efforts as we are currently evaluating our relationship with the Clippers. We are closely following investigation into this matter as we work to determine our course of action," she said in a statement.
TNT, which is carrying the game nationally, declined to comment.
The marketing moves by McDonald's and Burger King mean that over 13 sponsors (and counting) have either pulled, or suspended, marketing activities surrounding the Clippers. But McDonald's decision to pull national advertising during a telecast sure to draw a huge audience doesn't bode well for the NBA TV partners TNT and ESPN or league-wide sponsors such as Adidas.
On Monday, Mercedes-Benz' Southern California Dealers, CarMax and Virginia America dumped the Clippers while publicly criticizing the comments attributed to Mr. Sterling by TMZ and Deadspin. At least eight other sponsors -- State Farm, Kia, Diageo, Red Bull, Sprint, Corona, Aqua Hydrate and Commerce Hotel & Casino -- suspended their deals with the suddenly toxic franchise.
With the Clippers throwing down their warm-up uniforms on the floor in disgust over their owner's comments, Sunday's Game 4 between the Clippers and Warriors drew a 5.0 overnight rating on ESPN's ABC. That made it the highest rated game of the 2014 NBA Playoffs so far. Expect tonight's Game 5 to also draw big numbers for TNT.