Univision Host Rodner Figueroa Fired for Michelle Obama “Planet of the Apes” Remark

Rodner Figueroa and Michelle Obama
Univision host Rodner Figueroa was fired after insulting the First Lady and comparing her to characters in Planet of the Apes -- read his open apology letter to her here. Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images; Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

And he's out. An Emmy-winning host at Univision was fired on Thursday, Mar. 12, after comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to characters in Planet of the Apes.

On Thursday, Rodner Figueroa wrote an open letter to the First Lady (posted on LatinWe), apologizing for his lapse in judgment.

During Wednesday's broadcast of the show El Gordo y La Flaca, Figueroa said: "Michelle Obama looks like she's part of the cast of Planet of the Apes." His comments were made during a segment about Paolo Ballesteros, the makeup artist who made headlines this past week for transforming himself into famous celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Jennifer Lawrence.

"I feel embarrassed," Figueroa wrote in Spanish. "I apologize, because there is no excuse for a professional like me to do these types of comments that can be interpreted as offensive and racist in such volatile times in our country. I take responsibility for this lack of judgment on my part, but I can not accept being called a racist by anyone and be dismissed as such, and publicly humiliated by Univision after 17 years in this business."

Figueroa also claimed his remarks were a reflection upon the First Lady's makeup artist. "The full video clip in context shows that," he said. "I come from a biracial Latino family with members like my father who are Afro-Latino… I openly voted twice for your husband, Barack Obama, because I consider him a great man who respects minorities like me in this country."

He continued in his lengthy note to the mother of two: "I was verbally notified that because of a complaint from your office, I was fired."

Univision — the fifth largest network in the U.S. — denied that the White House had called in a complaint, and instead said Figueroa's remarks alone resulted in his unraveling.

"Yesterday during our entertainment program El Gordo y La Flaca Rodner Figueroa made comments regarding First Lady Michelle Obama that were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect Univision's values or views," Univision said in a statement to CNN. "As a result, Mr. Figueroa was immediately terminated."

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