President Donald Trump added his voice via Twitter Tuesday morning to the conservative furor over Nike’s decision to make former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick the star of its latest ad campaign.
“Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?” Trump tweeted.
Kaepernick rose to prominence as a politically polarizing figure in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Many other players started doing the same. The demonstrations sparked outrage among conservatives, who saw them as unpatriotic and offensive.
Kaepernick has not played since then and is currently suing the NFL for collusion, alleging owners caved to threats of viewer boycotts and conspired to leave him unsigned.
On Monday, Kaepernick tweeted a photo of himself with Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan and the words: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
The ad brought new anger to the two-year-old controversy, shrinking Nike’s stock by 3 percent Tuesday. Upset customers used social media to share photos and videos of themselves destroying the company’s products.
According to Fortune magazine, Nike received more than $43 million in free publicity in less than 24 hours after Kaepernick revealed the ad on Twitter.
Nike, the official uniform provider of the NFL, has not disclosed how extensive the ad campaign will be. The Associated Press cited a source familiar with the contract who said the campaign will include a number of ads featuring Kaepernick, his own apparel line, and a donation to his You Know Your Rights charity.
Players have helped keep the controversy fresh by kneeling during preseason games.
President Trump seemed to revive the old threat of conservative boycotts in his tweet.
“As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!” Trump wrote.