On Monday, the new face of Nike's 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign was unveiled, and NFL fans will have no problem recognizing him: Colin Kaepernick, who started the protest movement back in 2016, when he declared, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
In early trading Tuesday, Nike's shares dropped by nearly 4 percent, "the biggest intraday slide in five months," Bloomberg reports. "Nike shares slipped as much as 3.9 percent to $79 as of 9:31 a.m. Tuesday in New York — the biggest intraday slide in five months. They had climbed 31 percent this year through Friday’s close."
Clearly, Nike Inc. was willing to risk the inevitable backlash, which has already begun among some sports fans — #BoycottNike and videos of fans burning Nike gear are already trending online — to promote Kaepernick's controversial message.
"The fallout was no surprise but Nike may be betting that the upside of a Kaepernick endorsement is worth angering conservative Americans and supporters of President Donald Trump," writes Bloomberg.
That might prove to be a bad bet, however. As Bleacher Report notes, a recent NBC News/WSJ poll found that a majority of voters (54%) thought Kaepernick's protest movement was "inappropriate," while just 43% said it was "appropriate."
Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported Monday that despite Kaepernick having a deal with Nike since 2011, prompted by "interest from other shoe companies," Nike worked out a new, far more extensive contract with Kaepernick. The deal is a "wide endorsement," Robinson reported, a "star" deal, which will include royalties. The former QB will have "his own branded line," including shoes, shirts, jerseys, and more.
Kaepernick prompted the divisive and unpopular anthem protests during the 2016 preseason after reporters noticed that he refused to stand during the performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media. "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."
He expanded on his accusations a few days later. "There is police brutality — people of color have been targeted by police," he said. "That’s a large part of it. [The police] are government officials. They are put in place by the government so that’s something that the country has to change. There are things we can do to hold them more accountable. Make those standards higher … You have people who practice law, lawyers, who go to school for 8 years, but you can be a cop in 6 months. You don’t have to do the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. I mean someone with a curling iron has more education and training than people who have a gun. That's insane."
After another sub-par year, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers following the 2016 season. Despite pressure from supporters and ESPN, no NFL team picked him up, though the Seattle Seahawks were reportedly interested until he refused to assure them he'd stand for the anthem.
Kaepernick is now suing the league for alleged "collusion" to keep him out over his NFL brand-damaging protest and public comments, including his praise of Fidel Castro, which angered more fans.