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Beleaguered quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has not thrown a pass in an NFL game since the 2016 season, is the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” ad campaign.
The ad, released Monday afternoon, features a close-up, black-and-white image of Kaepernick with the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to draw attention to racial inequality.
Kaepernick signed a deal with Nike in 2011 but has not been used in a campaign by the shoe and athletic apparel company in two years, ESPN reported.
A lot behind the curtain here. @Nike had Kaepernick since 2011 but this is actually a new deal done by Kaepernick’s reps @markgeragos & @meiselasb. Nike sat on Kaepernick for 2 years w/ no idea what to do with him. Interest from other shoe companies absolutely changed their tune. https://t.co/IJJnjxWHLS— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 3, 2018
"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.
Nike is the official uniform sponsor of the NFL.
Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league for collusion in 2017. He won the summary judgment phase of the case last week, which means the case can go to trial.
Odell Beckham Jr., Serena Williams and LeBron James will also be part of the ad campaign, ESPN reported.
Nike’s decision drew criticism from country singer John Rich. The singer, who is part of the band Big & Rich, tweeted a photo of the band’s soundman cutting the Nike swoosh off his socks.
“Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions,” Rich wrote.
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