Nike on Monday revealed former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th Anniversary "Just Do It" Campaign, nearly two years after Kaepernick knelt during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice in America, setting off a polarizing movement across the U.S.
"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything," Nike said in an ad showing a close up of Kaepernick's face. ESPN first reported the news.
"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.
Kaepernick's silent protest quickly picked up steam, with President Donald Trump even putting in his two cents and demanding players who knelt be fired. In May, though, NFL owners approved rules that would force players to stand on the sideline or remain in the locker room during the anthem and teams with players who did not comply with the new policy would be subject to league fines.
Amid blowback, the NFL has since halted its planned enforcement of the anthem rule this July, however.
No team signed Kaepernick as a free agent in 2017 after he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers, and the 30-year-old has since sued NFL owners for colluding to keep him out of the league.
According to ESPN, Nike had been paying Kaepernick since the company sponsored him in 2011, but waited for the right moment to include him in ads.
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