Colin Kaepernick made waves Monday after it was revealed that he would be the face of Nike’s iconic “Just Do It” campaign — in time for its 30th anniversary.
“Believe in something,” the advertisement reads in white letters in front of a black-and-white portrait of Kaepernick. “Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
The former baller tweeted out the image from his own account on Monday.
Along with the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, athletes like Serena Williams and LeBron James also star in the campaign.
Kaepernick is a controversial pick for Nike because the sports brand is the NFL’s official apparel sponsor. This means that Nike manufactures the jerseys and game day apparel worn by all the league’s teams.
This ad comes after NFL owners issued a mandate to players that they could only protest during the national anthem by staying in the locker room. The new policy, approved in May, forbids them from sitting or taking a knee if they’re on the field.
Although Nike signed Kaepernick in 2011 to endorse its products, they have not used him in the last two years. However, their new contract with him appears to be a direct response to how the league has treated him since he first started kneeling in protest of police brutality during the national anthem in the 2016 season.
Details on Kaepernick and #Nike:
– It’s wide endorsement. He’s going to have his own branded line. Shoes, shirts, jerseys, etc. There will be Kaepernick apparel.
– Contract is a “star” deal on par with a top end #NFL player. Millions per year. Star deals also include royalties.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 3, 2018
Kaepernick has been a free agent since that 2016 season. He’s alleged that the NFL colluded to deny him a contract as punishment for protests. He filed a grievance charging that owners conspired to shut him out of the league in retaliation for the protests.
It was announced last week that his collusion case will get a formal hearing after an arbitrator denied the league’s request for a summary judgment.
Now it looks like Nike is picking sides.
“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, told ESPN.
“We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes,” Fisanotti added.
Anti-Kaepernick fans took to social media to send a message to Nike for its decision. Some even filmed themselves cutting off the Nike logo from their apparel. Others took to burning their Nike items.
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
— AlterAtYeshiva (@alteratyeshiva) September 4, 2018
— John Rich (@johnrich) September 3, 2018
Kaepernick, nor the NFL, have spoken publicly about the new deal yet.