Mary Bono is out as interim president of USA Gymnastics just days after being appointed.
Bono, who was instated on Oct. 12, resigned on Tuesday after she came under fire for a tweet she posted in September that showed her blacking out a white Nike logo on her shoes, which was an apparent attempt to show her disdain for the company choosing former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Kaepernick famously started the #TakeAKnee movement with teammate Eric Reid as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.
“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, a former GOP congresswoman from California and widow of late pop star Sonny Bono, wrote with her photo.
In a lengthy statement announcing her resignation, Bono addressed the controversy.
“With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel,” Bono wrote in the statement, obtained by CNN producer Sarah Boxer.
She continued: “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.’ “
Bono called the tweet an “emotional reaction” to Nike’s use of the phrase.
“I regret that at the time I didn’t better clarify my feelings,” she wrote. “That one tweet has now been made the litmus test of my reputation over almost two decades of public service.”
While Bono’s tweet was weeks old, it wasn’t until gymnast Simone Biles retweeted it on Saturday that the pressure mounted on Bono to step down from the post.
“Don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything,” Biles wrote on Saturday, in a tweet that was liked more than 33,000 times.
Bono had replaced former president and CEO Kerry Perry after she resigned in September as a result of the backlash to the news that former team doctor Larry Nassar was accused of assaulting more than 150 women and girls, including gymnasts Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.
Nassar pleaded guilty in November to several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing women and girls.
“I remain as dedicated as ever to the sport of gymnastics and its devotees,” Bono concluded in her statement on Tuesday. “I hope USAG will do all it can to support them.”