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No, the NFL did not ban customized Harambe jerseys

NFL jerseys
Doug Pensinger | Getty Images

An overzealous employee at an apparel company sparked social media outrage after temporarily banning the creation of customized Harambe jerseys.

Social media users were quick to criticize the National Football League on Wednesday after several football fans attempted in vain to purchase jerseys bearing the deceased gorilla's name.

Fanatics, the official online retailer for the NFL, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, said that the temporary ban of Harambe was a mistake. Starting Thursday, customers should be able to once again order jerseys featuring the gorilla's name.

"There is no ban on Harambe, and the NFL never asked for this name to be banned," a spokesperson from Fanatics told CNBC. "It turns out a Fanatics employee, in an effort to be vigilant and keep the banned list as current as possible, took it upon themselves to ban the word across our sites. Once we realized the error, we fixed the issue and Harambe is now available again."


Customers who attempted to input Harambe in the personalized name section of the online order form earlier this week were met with an error pop-up.

"We are unable to customize this item with the text you have entered," the website said. "Please try a different entry again."

Harambe, the gorilla from the Cincinnati Zoo who was killed after a child climbed into his enclosure, has become an internet phenomenon since his death in May. Social media users have used his image and name for social commentary, tributes and to "troll" other internet users by purposefully provoking arguments online.

Twitter users were quick to air their grievances about the banned name.

The company did not say how many Harambe jerseys had been purchased previously, but it's likely that Fanatics is about to see an influx of orders. The jerseys cost about $150.