RIO DE JANEIRO — Al Trautwig, NBC’s gymnastics announcer at the Rio Games, sparked a furor online when he suggested the adoptive parents of American star Simone Biles are not really her parents.
“They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
Biles and her younger sister were adopted by Ron Biles, their maternal grandfather, and his wife, Nellie, after the girls spent time in foster care. Trautwig referred to Ron and Nellie as Biles’ grandparents on Sunday’s broadcast. When a woman tweeted Trautwig to say he should call them her parents, he tweeted back that they are not.
Trautwig's tweet was preserved by many users who re-tweeted or screen grabbed it. The hashtag #FireTrautwig gained traction on Twitter.
So @AlTrautwig deleted his horribly rude & insulting comment but guess what, screenshot. @NBCOlympics #simonebiles pic.twitter.com/m6EtwJi1Ln— Jen Talley (@jenunexpected) August 8, 2016
PHOTOS : Simone Biles' Olympic debut
Aimee Boorman, Biles’ longtime coach, also chimed in, tweeting: “@AlTrautwig actually they are her parents.”
@AlTrautwig actually they are her parents.— Aimee B (@Salto_Coach) August 8, 2016
Trautwig apologized on Monday.
“I regret that I wasn’t more clear in my wording on the air,” he said in a statement emailed by NBC Sports. “I compounded the error on Twitter, which I quickly corrected. To set the record straight, Ron and Nellie are Simone’s parents.”
The network ran a profile of Biles on Sunday that noted she and younger sister
Trautwig was reviled by gymnastics fans even before the controversy on Sunday night, and he is often derided on the corner of social media known as the Gymternet.
On the podcast GymCastic, host Jessica O’Beirne said, “Could he be anymore insensitive and cruel? He is disgusting. How does he still have that job?”
Biles, 19, the three-time world champion, is poised to become one of the brightest stars of the Rio Games.
As her star has grown over the past three years, she has shared the story of how her family came together.
In a December interview at the family’s Houston-area home, she told USA TODAY Sports, “When I was younger, I was adopted by my grandparents, which are now my parents. I call them Mom and Dad. Everything’s just been so normal.”