The backlash started just hours after Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who sparked controversy for kneeling during the national anthem, tweeted that he’s starring in Nike Inc.’s iconic “Just Do It” ad campaign.
Following the announcement, the hashtags #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt started trending on Twitter. Some angry consumers even posted photos and videos of themselves burning their Nike shoes and other gear to protest the company using the divisive figure in its 30th anniversary ad campaign.
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.
On September 3, the sporting apparel giant announced the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback would be one of the faces promoting the campaign meant to celebrate three decades of the company’s “Just Do It” motto.
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” reads the ad, which features a picture of Kaepernick and was shared on social media on Monday. The campaign also includes LeBron James, Serena Williams, Shaquem Griffin and Odell Beckham.
Kaepernick signed with Nike in 2011 but the company has not used him in the last two years, since he rose to prominence in 2016 when he opted to kneel rather than stand during the national anthem as an act of silent protest against social and racial injustice.