Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Ad, Like His Protest, Divides America

Supporters and opponents of the NFL quarterback are out in force on social media since the announcement.

Nike faces backlash after decision to keep Kap.
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Supporters and opponents of the NFL quarterback are out in force on social media since the announcement.

It hasn’t taken long for the battle lines to be drawn after Nike announced Monday that free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be one of the faces of its new advertising campaign celebrating 30 years of “Just Do It.”

Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem at his NFL games to protest alleged police brutality against African-Americans, has sparked outrage and support since the signal-caller first made the statement during the 2016 season.

He has not played in the NFL since then, and some have strongly suggested that he’s been blackballed from the league. Numerous pro football players have followed his lead during the national anthem, resulting in President Donald Trump calling out the players and the NFL at various times, claiming that it disrespects the country.

So when Nike announced that Kaepernick would be part of its new campaign, the familiar divide resurfaced again.

John Rich, half of the popular country band Big & Rich, showed off a picture on Twitter of his soundman cutting up his Nike socks. The tweet got an extra push from Fox News.

Another fan, Sam Clancy, made the rounds on social media with a tweet that shows him burning his Nike-branded sneakers in protest of the shoe company’s support for Kaepernick.

“When he says believe in something and to sacrifice everything, I question what the something is, I question the sacrifice and I question the everything,” conservative commentator Michelle Malkin said on Fox & Friends Tuesday. “… This is a man who put depictions of police officers as pigs on his socks. That’s what Nike wants to associate itself with?”

Nike, though, showed no signs of backing down in face of a called boycott, according to Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America.

“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,” Fisanotti told ESPN. The network revealed that the shoe company has kept Kaepernick on its endorsement payroll despite his absence from the NFL for two seasons. They first signed him in 2011, the network stated.

  Mike Coppola / Getty Images

Athletes, like Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, and celebrities, though, went to Twitter to defend Kaepernick and Nike.

TMZ Sports pointed out that superstar quarterback and Trump supporter Tom Brady liked several posts featuring Kaepernick’s ad that were uploaded by LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and GQ, which all celebrated the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

????????????????Just.Do.It ✊???? @kaepernick7

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Reuters pointed out that Nike shares have fallen 2 percent since announcing that Kaepernick would be part of its new advertising campaign. Jane Hali & Associates retail analyst Jessica Ramirez told news services, though, that the customers Nike may lose to the social media boycott could be offset by attracting new younger consumers looking for brands that stand behind political topics.