The 'Peloton Husband' responds to backlash over bike ad

Actor Sean Hunter said he hopes the controversy does not have a long-lasting effect on his career.
/ Source: TODAY

The actor who played a husband giving his wife a new Peloton stationary bike as a gift in a heavily ridiculed commercial is speaking out about the role.

Sean Hunter, an actor and elementary school teacher who lives in Vancouver, Canada, said he shot the commercial in September and was pleased with the feedback he received from his acting coach and friends. That all changed after the commercial went viral and was criticized as being sexist.

"I pride myself on being a great teacher and developing actor, and I can only hope that this affects neither. I’m grappling with the negative opinions as none of them have been constructively helpful," Hunter told Psychology Today.

The 30-second ad, titled "The Gift That Gives Back," opens with the woman receiving the Peloton bike for Christmas. Later, she looks timid as she takes a video diary of herself saying, "First ride. I'm a little nervous, but excited."

Throughout the ad, the woman is seen vigorously working out on the bike. It ends with her watching her yearlong fitness diary video with her husband.

Hunter's role, which has become known as the "Peloton Husband" on social media, has been called out in tweets that have sparked questions about gender dynamics and sexism.

"Absolutely 100% chance that the husband in the Peloton ad is abusive," wrote one user.

Hunter said it has been hard for him to read comments like that.

"My 5 seconds of air time created an array of malicious feedback that is all associated with my face. My friend texted me today declaring that I’m 'a symbol of the patriarchy,'" he said.

Hunter said the ad "has nothing to do with my ability to teach or who I am."

"Unfortunately, the problem is that viewers can mistake an actor as that person after they’ve seen them on television instead of a person given a script with no opinion on what they are being told to portray," he added.

While his big break didn't quite turn out the way he had expected, Hunter is also having fun with it in a post on his Instagram page, which has the handle @PelotonHusband.

"Who would have thought my wife and I would be in so much controversy!" he wrote. "Wish I kept the receipt."

A Peloton spokesperson responded to the backlash in a statement to CNBC on Wednesday, saying, “We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them.

“Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by — and grateful for — the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”