Online Retailer Fanatics Removes ‘Harambe’ From List Of People Banned For Custom Jerseys

Fans who want to personalize their favorite teams’ jerseys with “Harambe” on the back can do so again starting Thursday, after the name mistakenly appeared on a retailer’s banned word list.

ESPN has learned that an official for a Major League Baseball team has contacted Fanatics, concerned that fans may personalize their jerseys with the name of the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo that has become an internet phenomenon. Fanatics manages online retail for the Big Four North American Leagues. Fanatics spokesman Meier Raivich said a company employee proactively added “Harambe” to a frequently updated list that instantly rejects the word when a fan tries to personalize it on the nameplate on the back of a jersey.

“Harambe” was then added to the banned list for other leagues, including the NFL, which received the majority of the blame on social media Wednesday even though league officials had nothing to do with the decision .

As news of the ban began to circulate, Fanatics officials decided that “Harambe” was not on the list, which consists of thousands of words, consisting mostly of secular words and slang. Thursday morning, “Harambe” was taken off the list.

Harambe the gorilla was killed by a zoo worker on May 28 after a 3-year-old boy climbed into the habitat and was dragged by the animal. The incident was caught on camera and quickly went viral.

The gorilla quickly gained cult status as an internet meme. Last month, a fan raced the grounds of Fenway Park wearing a Harambe jersey. Last week, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard wore a “RIP Harambe” shirt at the Cincinnati Zoo, and this week the UMass Lowell football team is hosting the Harambe Party and giving out stuffed gorillas.

Social media support for the gorilla was so strong that the zoo deleted its Twitter account last month.


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Roy C. Plante

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