‘Harambe’ Jersey Sales Allowed Again After Brief Ban & Subsequent Social Media Outcry


Social media went into a firestorm Tuesday after the NFL banned the sales of jerseys from it’s website using the name ‘Harambe’ as it’s nameplate.

For fans who tried, upon entering ‘Harambe’ as a last name, an error message appeared, disallowing the name in the same manner as other provocative and slur words.

Less than 24 hours later and to the relief of us all, it was reported by ESPN that NFLShop.com has reinstated ‘Harambe’ as a useable name for jerseys.



Fans who want to customize their favorite team’s jersey with “Harambe” on the back can do so once again as of Thursday, after the word mistakenly appeared on a retailer’s list of banned words.

ESPN has learned that an official with a Major League Baseball team, concerned that fans were customizing their jerseys with the name of the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo, contacted Fanatics. Fanatics runs online retail for the four major North American leagues. Fanatics spokesman Meier Raivich said that a Fanatics employee proactively added “Harambe” to a frequently updated list that instantly rejects the word when a fan tries to customize it on the nameplate on the back of a jersey.

“Harambe” was subsequently added to the banned list for the 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 word began to circulate of the banning, Fanatics officials decided that “Harambe” didn’t belong on the list, which includes thousands of words, made up mostly of profane and slang words. On Thursday morning, “Harambe” was removed from the list.

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

The gorilla quickly gained cult status as an internet meme. Last month, a fan ran onto the field at Fenway Park in a Harambe jersey. Last week, New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard wore an “RIP Harambe” shirt to the Cincinnati Zoo, and this week, the UMass Lowell soccer team is having Harambe Night and giving out stuffed gorillas.

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

In less than a day, the NFL has elected not to fine players who wore 9/11 tribute cleats Sunday, pledged $100 million towards concussion research and equipment development, and now most importantly reinstated ‘Harambe’ as a useable last name for jerseys. What a time to be alive. Good on you NFL. Good on you.