By Rosy Cordero
June 23, 2020 at 01:54 PM EDT
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Jimmy Kimmel is addressing his controversial use of blackface while impersonating NBA player Karl Malone on The Man Show in the '90s. The late-night host apologized on Tuesday for his behavior and for taking so long to address the criticism.

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“I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us. That delay was a mistake," Kimmel said in a statement released by journalist Yashar Ali via Twitter. "There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”

He continued, "On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV. We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head."

Kimmel has also been criticized of late for announcing he'd be taking a summer vacation amid the blackface controversy and the release of a video from an interview with Megan Fox that fans labeled misogynistic. He addressed the former in his apology, not the latter.

"My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well. I will be back to work in September. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”

Kimmel is set to return as host and executive produce the 72nd Emmy Awards sometime in 2020.

Kimmel has not responded to EW's request for comment.

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