Colin Kaepernick is starring in Nikes new Just Do It anniversary ad
Colin Kaepernick, right, began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games as a protest against police brutality and racial injustice. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
It looks as if the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is starring in a new ad campaign for Nike.
He shared an image on his Twitter account Monday of a close-up of his face with the words "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." Nike's Twitter account later retweeted his post.
Nike has represented Kaepernick since 2011 but hadn't featured him in ads for two years, according to ESPN.
A person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press that Kaepernick negotiated a new multiyear deal with Nike now that he's out of the NFL, which will feature him in billboards, television commercials, and a new apparel line. Some proceeds will reportedly go to his Know Your Rights education camp.
This could mean Nike is wading further into the political fray surrounding Kaepernick, who first knelt during the national anthem in 2019 to protest racial inequality and police brutality. He is now bringing a lawsuit against the NFL in which he accuses owners of colluding to keep him out of the league.
The protests, which had relatively little participation at the start of last season, became part of the national conversation after President Donald Trump condemned them in September.
Speaking at a rally, Trump told the crowd: "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now, out — he's fired!'"
Trump has continued to deride the practice, saying that protesting during the anthem is disrespectful to the US flag and military. Various players, teams, and even the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, defended players' right to kneel, but the issue remains a topic of conversation with the NFL having introduced rules that prohibit kneeling during the anthem.
"Nike supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society," the company said in a statement after Trump began criticizing the protests.
The brand isn't afraid of making a splash. When the French Open banned Serena Williams' black catsuit in August, the company released an image defending the athlete that said "You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers."
The original "Just Do It" ad campaign premiered in 1988, when Nike featured the 80-year-old Walt Stack jogging across the Golden Gate Bridge. Kaepernick's spot is in celebration of the ad's 30th anniversary, ESPN reported.
"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," Nike's vice president of brand for North America, Gino Fisanotti, told ESPN.
Nike did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on the new ad.
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