Nike kicked off the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign with a new advertisement featuring a very controversial figure: Colin Kaepernick.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racism, tweeted the black-and-white photo on Monday, September 3. The ad includes the quote, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
The sports apparel company also confirmed on Monday that Kaepernick, 30, has signed a multi-year deal that makes him the face of the campaign.
“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,” Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America, said in a statement to ESPN. “We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes.”
The athlete has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season. He filed a grievance against the league and its owners in November 2017, in which he accused them of colluding to keep him off the field.
Fellow athletes LeBron James, Serena Williams and Kevin Durant were among the many people who showed support for Kaepernick on Monday. James, 33, and Durant, 29, reposted Nike’s ad on their Instagram accounts, while Williams, 36, tweeted, “Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today.”
Not everyone was thrilled with the decision to make Kaepernick the face of the iconic campaign, though. The hashtag #NikeBoycott became a top trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday, September 4. Several people posted photos and videos of themselves ripping and burning their Nike shoes and clothing.
President Donald Trump, who once called on the NFL to fire the “sons of bitches” who kneel during the national anthem, has yet to publicly react to Nike’s ad.
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