Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become a member of Nike’s campaign for the 30th anniversary of their slogan “Just Do It.” The activist athlete posted the ad on his Instagram account on Labor Day. The ad consists of a black and white portrait of Kaepernick with the phrase “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America.
Kaepernick became a sponsor of Nike in 2011 and the company continued to sponsor him through his season of national anthem protests to shun police brutality and after he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. Nike is also the official apparel company of the NFL. Former ESPN analyst Jemele Hill noted via Twitter that the company “was built on the idea of rebellion.”
“They made [Michael] Jordan the face of the company at a time when Black men were considered to be a huge risk as pitch men,” she stated.
Athletes like LeBron James and Serena Williams supported Kaepernick. Williams praised the former signal caller and former 49ers player Eric Reid for their activism recently.
“I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African American should be completely grateful and honored how Colin and Eric are doing so much more for the greater good, so to say,” Serena said. “They really use their platform in ways that is really unfathomable. I feel like they obviously have great respect from a lot of their peers, especially other athletes, people that really are looking for social change.”
On Tuesday, the NFL released a statement on the Nike campaign, expressing the importance of open discussions and togetherness.
“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities,” Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs, stated. “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Blacklash was bound to follow Nike, with #BoycottNike #JustBurnIt trending on Twitter. People who are against the move took photos and videos of burned shoes and cut-up swoosh logos. Nike shares (NKE) dropped by approximately 3.2 percent at the end of business day on Tuesday.
Along with the ad, Nike is set to release new Kaepernick apparel which will include a t-shirt and a shoe. Other athletes will also be featured in the “Just Do It” 30th anniversary, including Williams, James and Odell Beckham Jr.