In honor of 30 years of the “Just Do It” slogan, Colin Kaepernick has been named the latest face of Nike. The NFL player debuted his new ad for the company on Twitter on Monday, September 3rd. By Tuesday morning, the ad’s progressive message had spread…and led some conservatives to destroy their Nike products in protest. Many of them posted photos and videos of themselves burning or cutting up Nike apparel on social media.
Colin Kaepernick first sat down in protest of the American flag during a pre-game national anthem in August 2016. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” the former San Francisco 49ers player told NFL Media after the football game. The moment launched the Take A Knee movement, inspiring many other NFL players to sit out or kneel during the national anthem.
The footballer’s Nike ad, which is a black-and-white closeup of his face, reads: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The slogan is a clear reference to the Take A Knee protests. Kaepernick put his football career on the line to stand up against injustice, and since becoming a free agent in 2017, he still has not been signed on to a new team.
Conservatives have long criticized Kaepernick and the Take A Knee movement.
In fact, President Donald Trump is one of the movement’s greatest critics; sadly, it’s not that surprising that people are reacting so irrationally (and hatefully) to the campaign. “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?” one Twitter user captioned a video of his Nike sneakers on fire on a patch of grass.
Another Twitter user, who proclaims to be a “Marco Rubio fan” in his Twitter bio, shared a video of himself burning five pairs of Nikes in an outdoor fireplace.
Others shared videos burning and cutting Nike clothing in addition to shoes.
That being said, many people took Twitter to criticize people for destroying perfectly good apparel. Some suggested that if people did not want to wear Nike products anymore they should have at least donated the goods to people in need.
Others pointed out that Nike’s labor practices are more worth protesting than their partnership with Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick isn’t the only athlete to appear in a hot-button Nike ad this summer.
Tennis icon Serena Williams recently made headlines for wearing a fabulous black “catsuit” during the French Open. Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation, told Tennis Magazine that her outfit had gone “too far” and that it would “no longer be accepted,” AP News reported. In response to Giudicelli’s comments, Nike tweeted a photo of Williams in the catsuit captioned: “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.”
Despite the negative backlash, one thing seems clear: Activists like Colin Kaepernick are not going to let their haters—whether they be conservatives on social media or the president of the United States—get in the way of what they believe in.