Conservatives Cheer Mass Layoffs at Sports Illustrated

Conservatives on social media rejoiced on Friday after Sports Illustrated announced mass layoffs, as critics revived backlash that the magazine faced after it partnered with trans model Kim Petras for its 2023 Swimsuit Edition.

After a tumultuous past several months in which the magazine also endured an AI-scandal, it will lay off a huge portion, if not all, of its staff. As the print magazine struggled to transition into the digital media landscape, a November report by Futurism, a science and technology news site, accused Sports Illustrated of publishing AI-generated articles. The magazine said the claims were “not accurate” after the story broke.

On Friday, the Sports Illustrated Union and The NewsGuild of New York announced in a joint statement that the magazine’s employees were notified earlier in the day that The Arena Group, publisher of Sports Illustrated, “is planning to lay off a significant number, possibly all, of the Guild-represented workers at SI.”

The decision was a result of Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which bought Sports Illustrated in 2019, “revoking Arena’s license to publish SI.”

Earlier this month, the Arena Group failed to pay ABG $3.75 million, which was a breach of its licensing agreement. ABG told Arena Group in a letter on Thursday that it was terminating the Sports Illustrated license.

After the layoffs were announced, conservative podcaster Tim Pool wrote on X, formerly Twitter, “They put a dude with ts on the cover so I’m not surprised.”

Kim Petras
Trans model Kim Petras attends the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue release party on May 18, 2023, in New York City. Conservatives on social media cheered on Friday after the magazine announced mass layoffs.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit

X user @ace_indy_biz, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, wrote, “Go woke go broke. Sports Illustrated has been trash for the last 10 years.”

In May, Sports Illustrated was under fire for featuring Petras, who is also a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, as one of the four models who had their own cover in the 2023 Swimsuit Edition. Petras was photographed in waist-deep water, wearing a gold bikini top.

Besides consumers criticizing companies that partner with the trans community or promote LGBTQ inclusivity, lawmakers in several states have fought against LGBTQ rights, particularly targeting trans youth.

In 2023, the American Civil Liberties Union tracked 510 anti-LGBTQ bills across the U.S. The bills included efforts to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, prohibit trans students from participating on school sports teams of the gender with which they identify and restrict trans people from using public bathrooms and locker rooms that didn’t align with their birth gender.

X user @WallStreetSilv posted a photo of the Petras magazine cover, writing, “How it started: Sports Illustrated put a trans dude in a swimsuit on the cover of their 2023 annual swimsuit edition.

“How it’s going: All of the staff at Sports Illustrated was fired today. Go woke, Go broke … strikes again.”

X user @BuzzPatterson wrote: “Sports Illustrated Bud Lite’d themselves. Nobody wants to see trans dudes and fat chicks in the swimsuit edition,” referring to conservatives boycotting Bud Light after the beer brand partnered with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney in April.

Newsweek reached out to The NewsGuild of New York via email, but it did not comment on whether Sports Illustrated‘s decision to put Petras on the 2023 cover contributed in any way to the layoffs.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.


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