Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rant against anti-maskers has cost the star at least one corporate sponsor at his upcoming bodybuilding competition in Columbus, Ohio.
The “Terminator” star and former governor of California addressed the severity of the pandemic during an interview with CNN earlier this month, calling Americans who are opposed to wearing face masks “schmucks.” He added, “Screw your freedom.”
REDCON1, a sports supplement company, announced last week they were pulling out from sponsoring next month’s Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition over Schwarzenegger’s “dangerous” and “anti-American” comments.
“It’s with a heavy heart and some genuine sadness, that REDCON1 has decided to discontinue any and all support for the Arnold Classic and the other Arnold related events around the world,” REDCON1 founder Aaron Singerman wrote on Instagram.
‘Screw your freedom’: Arnold Schwarzenegger calls anti-maskers ‘schmucks’ in powerful rant
Although Singerman said REDCON1 has been a sponsor of the Arnold Classic for nearly a decade, the founder said his company is a “patriotic pro-freedom brand” that supports “freedom of choice.”
“Anyone who says ‘screw your freedoms’ is un-American, Singerman said.
“We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars being a top sponsor of the event, and this year the exclusive sponsor of the webcast, but we can’t in good Conscience continue to support & be involved with someone who has such diametrically opposed beliefs,” Singerman added.
USA TODAY has reached out to REDCON1 and Schwarzenegger for further comment.
During an interview with CNN’s Bianna Golodryga and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Aug. 11, Schwarzenegger called out Americans who are still “in denial” about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a virus here. It kills people and the only way we prevent it is: get vaccinated, wear masks, do social distancing, washing your hands all the time, and not just to think about, ‘Well my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.’ No, screw your freedom,” Schwarzenegger said.
He added, “You have the freedom to wear no mask — but you know something? You’re a schmuck for not wearing a mask. Because you are supposed to protect your fellow Americans around you.”
Days after the interview, Schwarzenegger addressed the criticism he received for his statements in an op-ed for The Atlantic. While he stands by his position on the matter, he said he may have gone a bit far.
“I’ll admit, calling people schmucks and saying ‘Screw your freedom’ was a little much, even if I stand by the sentiment,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “But there is nothing that I’m more passionate about than keeping America great, and it’s the only subject that can make me lose my temper.”
Contributing: Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY; Earl Hopkins, The Columbus Dispatch