The owners of a Boston sports radio station offered a bizarre defense after one of their on-air personalities made a racist joke about ESPN analyst Mina Kimes.
Chris Curtis of WEEI-FM made the joke on “The Greg Hill Show” while discussing a proposal in Boston to ban miniature bottles of alcohol, also known as nips. The term is also a racial slur against people of Japanese descent.
When a co-host asked the show’s personalities to rank their favorite nips, Curtis said, “I’d probably go Mina Kimes.” He then turned to producer Chris Scheim and both men laughed. The other co-hosts brushed past it.
Kimes, a star ESPN personality, is of Korean descent on her mother’s side.
A spokesperson for Audacy, WEEI-FM’s parent company, told The Boston Globe it had no comment on the matter. But the spokesperson also suggested that Curtis had meant to name actor Mila Kunis instead of Kimes.
That would ostensibly make Curtis’ offensive remark a sexist quip about Kunis rather than a racist one about Kimes.
ESPN issued a statement slamming Curtis’ remark.
“There is no place for these type of hateful comments, which were uncalled for and extremely offensive,” ESPN said.
Kimes took the incident in stride, quietly updating her Twitter profile picture:
Boston has a reputation for incidents like these, particularly in its sports community. A number of athletes have complained about the way the city’s fans treat them. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, for example, said last year that fans in Boston are “racist as fuck.”
Other athletes have also spoken out about experiencing racism in Boston. Five-time Major League Baseball All-Star Torii Hunter said in 2020 he had a no-trade clause for Boston due to the racist abuse he’d endured there. And in 2017, retired Yankees ace CC Sabathia said Black ballplayers had come to expect racism in Boston. After Hunter spoke out in 2020, the Red Sox called out racist behavior at Fenway Park and pledged to do more to prevent it.