U.S.A. Gymnastics appointed the former Republican congresswoman and gymnast on Friday. A day later, Biles, who is sponsored by Nike, pointed out a tweet of Bono’s from shortly after Nike announced they were partnering with Kaepernick for a new ad campaign.
Bono’s tweet featured a photo of a shoe with the signature Nike swoosh being filled in with black marker.
Bono captioned it:
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….
The original tweet has since been deleted, but not before it was captured in a screenshot:
Biles’ tweet didn’t mince words:
don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything https://t.co/cYQizcjywn
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) October 13, 2018
After Biles’ post, Bono deleted her tweet and offered the following apology:
I regret the post and respect everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them. This doesn’t reflect how I will approach my position @USAGym I will do everything I can to help build, w/ the community, an open, safe & positive environment.
— Mary Bono (@MaryBonoUSA) October 14, 2018
But the damage had been done, and Biles’ tweet knocked it out of the park with Twitter users:
— The Gymternet (@thegymterdotnet) October 13, 2018
Tell them about it gurl!! Living for this tea right here, using your voice for positive change! Here for it, also the Biles 2 on vault we aren’t even worthy omg omg so excited for worlds!!
— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) October 13, 2018
The exchange sparked much debate among commenters:
You can literally go in a circle with this. Technically, Mary Bono is upset over Kaepernick’s OPINION. Does he not have freedom of speech as well? Right now, USA Gymnastics is in desperate need of sponsorships. Tweets like this don’t help. Simone’s tweet is 100% valid.
— LifeStories (@LifeStories91) October 13, 2018
I think it’s more about the position @MaryBonoUSA has accepted being head of US gymnastics and using her social media to display her personal opinions. @Simone_Biles has a huge stake in US Gymnastics and is entitled to be concerned by Mary’s declaration against Nike.
— Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries! (@Carlypawker) October 13, 2018
Since you want to equate the two, go all the way. He lost his job for those opinions . Mary can go ahead and lose her too.
— Miss Jabali (@MalaikaJabali) October 13, 2018
She’s the HEAD of the organization! There are no NFL figure heads destroying Nike property no matter their opinions because they know they’re not in a position to lose that contract. As a bankrupt org, desperate for sponsors & good PR, you CAN NOT pick this person as your leader.
— Kelsey Rae (@Kel_C_Rae) October 14, 2018
Amidst the support Biles’ tweet received, some Twitter users offered their own criticism of Bono:
Already showing she's not okay with athletes speaking up for themselves which is exactly the issue @USAGym needs to fix, not to mention the lack of respect this tweet sets for the many, many POC gymnasts involved all over the sport. #tryagain
— Queen Elizabeth (@gymschu7) October 13, 2018
YES! 100% this. If she’s not okay with athletes standing up for what they believe in and voicing their opinions, she is not the right person for this job.
— Claire (@musicalmorena) October 13, 2018
You guys: kneeling is NOT about one black man FFS! It’s about peaceful protest of racism in America. It’s not @Kaepernick7 “opinion”. It’s not a dig against our military. What we are witnessing is a white woman who is satisfied with her racism couched as patriotism.
— Rebecca Scritchfield (she/her) (@ScritchfieldRD) October 13, 2018
Well said. EXACTLY. It is also deeply troubling that people like @MaryBonoUSA are more angry with a US citizen kneeling in a peaceful protest than she is about human beings being murdered.
— Bella (@BellaDodds) October 14, 2018
U.S.A. Gymnastics has been struggling to obtain sponsorship since the Larry Nassar scandal earlier this year. Biles is one of the many women who accused Nassar of sexual assault.
On Monday, U.S.A. Gymnastics came under scrutiny yet again. According to a USA Today article, Bono is actually “from the law firm that helped the governing body cover up Larry Nassar’s assaults on numerous young gymnasts.” Her appointment is a decision that should be “overturned immediately,” according to the article.
This time it was Gold medalist Aly Raisman who took to social media to express her outrage.
Sure enough, Bono resigned her new position Tuesday afternoon and released a statement in which she expressed regret — while defending her behavior.
She shared the statement on Twitter:
Here is the statement I released earlier today regarding my resignation from USA Gymnastics pic.twitter.com/Oqga5FTXvx
— Mary Bono (@MaryBonoUSA) October 16, 2018
Not surprisingly, her statement didn’t go over very well:
We noticed how you left out your long affiliation with the law firm that represented USA Gymnastics and kept the scandal under wraps and helped to cover it up.
You didn't really think that would be forgotten, did you?
— SPOOOOOKYgrunt (@soonergrunt) October 16, 2018
And the award for most passive aggressive resignation goes to…. You were never the right person for this organization and the conflicts of interests were astounding. #GURLBYE
— Vote November 6th (@theamanar) October 16, 2018
Never use servicemembers as cover for your depravity. Vets know many who gave the ultimate sacrifice and manage not to be silent when lives are destroyed and not to be hypocritical racists about the protest for human rights. You are not worthy of using the sacrifice of others.
— D.A. Gray (@dagray08) October 16, 2018
Congrats on clarifying your position and… um… making it worse? That's gotta be some kinda record
— Go Coogs! (@MKE_Coog) October 16, 2018
Things are not looking good for U.S.A. Gymnastics, to put it mildly.