An Air New Zealand promotion suggesting a female Belarusian shot putter had male genitalia has come under fire from social media users.
The company ran a competition earlier today, offering customers the chance to win prizes by opening a virtual Christmas cracker on its Grabaseat website.
According to the Wellington-based Dominion Post, those who did not win a prize were offered a consolation joke. One that read “What large heavy ball was responsible for Valerie Adams’ gold medal? The Belarusian’s left testicle” did not meet with universal approval.
The joke was a reference to the Belarusian athlete Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who initially won the women’s shot put competition at the London 2012 Olympics.
She was later stripped of her gold medal following a positive drug test for anabolic steroids. The gold medal was then awarded to Valerie Adams of New Zealand, who also won the country’s lone athletics gold in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
However, the punch line was not appreciated by some customers, with one Twitter user describing it as “unbelievably offensive…transphobic, and just plain unnecessary.”
Another tweeted suggesting a campaign for Air New Zealand to apologise and offer a donation to a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender) cause:
— Theresa W. (@Desdrata) December 3, 2012
The company later used its Grabaseat Twitter account to respond:
Not everyone likes our xmas cracker jokes so tell us your tacky kiwi jokes & we'll add our favourites into the cracker http://t.co/h7A7YtXb
— grabaseat (@grabaseat) December 2, 2012