Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxing icon, came in third place in the presidential election.
His campaign for the top position began with a webcast of himself filing his candidacy in a coach branded with “Man of Destiny” through Manila’s early gridlock, according to AFP.
Despite admitting to using crystal meth and marijuana as a teenager, his promise to imprison corrupt politicians and prosecute drug users failed to land a knockout blow, and he was defeated by a large majority in Monday’s election.
Pacquiao received less than four million votes, or 6.8% of all ballots cast, according to preliminary results.
He finished a distant third behind winner Ferdinand Marcos Junior and runner-up Leni Robredo, who received more than half of the votes.
Pacquiao had practically little chance of winning the race, according to pre-election polls.
But to the very last moment, the devout evangelical Christian convert had extolled his chances of success.
“I feel there are more poor people than affluent people,” Pacquiao said when voting in his native region of Sarangani on Monday.
When Pacquiao is in Manila, he lives in an enclave of millionaires and foreign embassies. “We want to guarantee them that the majority of the poor will unite to show the affluent that there are more people suffering in poverty in this nation,” he added.
Pacquiao’s unsuccessful bid for the country’s highest elected post cost him more than just money and pride; he also had to drop out of a second term in the celebrity-studded Senate, where he had a good chance of winning.
Pacquiao, a former lawmaker, said in November that if he loses the presidential race, he will not return to sports.
“I’m now 43 years old, so that is enough for me,” the father of five stated.
Instead, Pacquiao plans to produce fruit on a 20-hectare (49-acre) farm in Sarangani.
Pacquiao’s climb from a destitute street boy to one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time has earned him widespread admiration across the archipelago.
As a politician and fervent Christian, though, he has sparked debate.
Pacquiao was a vocal supporter of Duterte’s murderous drug campaign and call for the death sentence to be reinstated.
His reputation was harmed by his own admission of prior drug use, and homophobic remarks cost him a lucrative sponsorship arrangement with Nike.
Critics have accused the high school dropout of lacking intelligence and hardly attending sessions in Congress and the Senate, raising doubts about his competence to lead the 110 million-strong country.
Last year, he squandered vital political capital in a public confrontation with Duterte that resulted in a serious schism among their political party.
Pacquiao declared his retirement from boxing in September, just days before announcing his presidential bid.
When asked when Pacquiao would admit defeat, a spokeswoman claimed the star was “resting” after the months-long campaign and voting process.
“Senator Pacquiao expresses his sincere gratitude to the media and wishes you continued freedom of speech.”