Trump weighs in on Colin Kaepernick Nike ad after fans burn their gear in protest
Yesterday, Nike's advertising deal with NFL star Colin Kaepernick caused a worldwide internet frenzy.
On Twitter, fans of the quarterback came forward to express their happiness about having someone so inspiring representing the brand; meanwhile, those who oppose his commitment to kneeling during the national anthem in order to protest police brutality against African-Americans took direct action against the sportswear giant... by burning products they had already purchased.
To many, it seemed like a very impractical way of taking a stand against the brand - but that didn't stop hundreds of social media users posting videos of themselves setting their own property alight.
"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?" wrote one person.
"@Nike Due to your support of C.K. in your coming adds, I as an American can no longer support your company. #boycottNike #IStandForOurFlag," said another.
And now Donald Trump has said his part.
The president has famously spoken out against certain NFL players' decisions to kneel before games before, and, in a 2017 rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, had this to say about protesters of racism:
"Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'"
Needless to say, then, it was already known that Trump objects to NFL players exercising their right to free speech on the football field, and so it didn't come as much surprise when he issued a further statement yesterday lambasting Nike for their decision to support Kaepernick.
"I think it’s a terrible message," the president said in an interview with the Daily Caller yesterday afternoon. He then added: "Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent."
Trump has also consistently refused to acknowledge that the act of kneeling before the flag is not one of disrespect, but one that is symbolic of the struggles and inequalities followed by people of colour in the USA today.
"The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race," he tweeted last year. "It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!"
The president also added yesterday that "there’s no reason" for Nike to have chosen Kaepernick specifically for the campaign.
"I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it," he said, "but I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it."
Regardless of Trump's dislike for the campaign, however, Nike has achieved what it set out to do in choosing Kaepernick as the face of their brand. Like him, they wanted to show that they were willing to take a risk in order to demonstrate what they believed in - and having the president comment on their campaign certainly proves it worked.