Nike takes on Trump by naming Colin Kaepernick the face of 30th anniversary of ‘Just Do It’

Nike Inc. is taking a stand on taking a knee.

The company’s new ad campaign will feature Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who led player protests against racial injustice and police brutality during the national anthem, in a highly political move directly at odds with the rhetoric of President Trump.

Kaepernick revealed his role in the campaign in a Monday tweet that was subsequently retweeted by Nike’sNKE, +1.23%  corporate Twitter account.

Though Kaepernick is still a man without a team, his endorsement contract with Nike is extended into a new multiyear deal, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, the Wall Street Journal reported. That may include his own branded line of apparel, according to Yahoo NFL reporter Charles Robinson.

Nike told the Journal in an email that Kaepernick is among a slate of athletes that the shoe and apparel maker — it has a reported billion-dollar deal to make NFL uniforms and other gear — will feature as it marks the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign. That includes tennis star Serena Williams, who also tweeted.

In ongoing litigation, Kaepernick alleges the league and all 32 teams colluded to keep him unsigned because of his outspoken political views. He was one of the leaders of player protests, signified by most by kneeling during the national anthem, drawing repeated criticism from President Trump.

Related: NFL preseason kicks off with scattered protests during anthem

Kaepernick, who last played with the San Francisco 49ers and who many NFL analysts believe has the ability to be a present-day starter somewhere in the NFL, has gone unsigned since March 2017. Court documents from his collusion case reveal most teams considered him good enough to be a starter.

Previously, The Wall Street Journal reported that, in depositions for Kaepernick’s grievance, NFL owners indicated that President Trump’s attacks on the player protests pushed them to change the rules for the season just underway.

NFL owners changed the rules regarding the anthem in the spring to require players on the field to stand and “show respect” for the anthem. The rule was subsequently suspended after it drew the ire of players, who continue to negotiate with the owners of a league suffering falling viewership and that plays under increased scrutiny of head injuries.

Nike, meanwhile, has been grappling with the fallout of an internal scandal in which nearly a dozen executives left the company amid complaints of inappropriate workplace behavior. Last month, two former Nike employees filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination and detailing specific accounts of alleged harassment.

Nike has said it “opposes discrimination of any type and has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Nike shares are up 31% year to date, while the S&P 500SPX, +0.01% is up 8.5% over the same stretch.

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