LOS ANGELES - Former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's strongly worded rant against anti-maskers has cost him the long-time sponsor of his upcoming bodybuilding competition in Columbus, Ohio.
Earlier this month, the 74-year-old star had spoken to news channel CNN about the severity of the pandemic and called Americans who opposed wearing face masks "schmucks".
He added: "Screw your freedom, because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities."
Redcon1, a sports supplement company, announced last week it was pulling out from sponsoring the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition in September, an event which it had backed for a decade.
It said in a statement: "Redcon1 is a patriotic pro-freedom brand rooted in the uncompromising unapologetic belief that you, as an American, are entitled to your freedoms and opinion and should not be insulted or persecuted for having a varying view. We support everyone's individual freedoms."
Redcon1 founder Aaron Singerman, who said Schwarzenegger was his role model, later took to his personal Instagram account to say: "Anyone who says 'screw your freedoms' is unAmerican."
Days after Schwarzenegger's rant, he addressed the criticisms in an opinion piece in The Atlantic, a political and foreign affairs magazine.
"I'll admit, calling people schmucks and saying 'Screw your freedom' was a little much, even if I stand by the sentiment," he wrote. "But there is nothing that I'm more passionate about than keeping America great and it's the only subject that can make me lose my temper."