It turns out that Nike, which has kept former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on their payroll since 2011 but has not used him in their ads for the last two years, was saving him for a signature moment, bringing him back in their ads to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign.
Gino Fisanotti, Nike's vice president of brand marketing for North America, told ESPN, "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.”
To commemorate Nike’s decision, Kaepernick gleefully tweeted:
In August 2016, Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017. As ESPN reported, “Kaepernick's contract was originally supposed to keep him with the Niners through 2020, but the team worked with the 29-year-old to revamp it before he reclaimed the starting job in October. … As part of the deal's reconfiguration, Kaepernick traded $14.5 million in injury guarantees during the 2017 season for the opportunity to opt out of the deal early.”
In April 2017, the Colin Kaepernick Foundation donated $25,000 to Assata’s daughters, a group honoring convicted cop killer Assara Shakur, who escaped prison and fled to Cuba after she was found guilty in the 1973 murder of Officer Werner Foerster.
There was plenty of criticism of Nike’s decision and Kaepernick’s statement on Twitter:
On the other hand, Kaepernick has some prominent supporters: