Tiger Woods endorsed Nike’s latest “Just Do It” ad narrated by anthem protester Colin Kaepernick with a message nearly as succinct.
“It’s a beautiful spot,” said Woods, who has been closely associated with the Nike brand throughout his career.
The two-minute ad, which debuted during the NFL opener, highlights superstar athletes LeBron James, Serena Williams and others, and touches on the controversy of NFL player protests during the national anthem.
Woods, a Nike athlete since turning pro in 1996 who rarely delves into divisive issues, said Friday he was a fan of the apparel giant’s ad campaign featuring the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback known for his protests during the national anthem.
“I think Nike is trying to get out ahead of it and trying to do something special and I think they’ve done that,” Woods said at the BMW Championship. “It’s a beautiful spot and pretty powerful people (are) in the spot.”
The ad aired during the first commercial break in the third quarter of the Eagles-Falcons game on Thursday night. Kaepernick watched the first television airing on NBC at an event held at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
Woods has been a big part of Nike Golf through his 14 major championships, no moment more indelible than when his chip shot on the 16th green at the Masters hung on edge of the cup for two seconds — with the swoosh facing the camera — before dropping. His “TW” logo has made him an embodiment of the brand.
He said Nike didn’t consult his opinion on the ad that featured Kaepernick.
“They did not tell me it was coming,” Woods said. “When corporate does things that are outside of golf and outside of my realm, that’s what they do.”
Nike’s swoosh logo was omnipresent on hats, polos and spikes for golfers at Aronimink Golf Club.
Tony Finau, who is among those sponsored by Nike, said the campaign with Kaepernick “definitely stands out.”
“As far as Kaepernick and all that’s concerned, we all have the freedom of speech and he’s using it in a way that’s nonviolent, which is something you just have to respect as an American,” he said. “They came out with a campaign that they feel is who they are. As an athlete of theirs, it’s not my job to agree or disagree with whatever they do.”
Kaepernick’s deal with Nike for the 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign was the most polarizing issue in sports this week, renewing the heated debate over the national anthem protests. Some fans responded to Kaepernick’s sponsorship deal by burning gear with Nike’s signature swoosh logo or saying they no longer will purchase Nike products.
President Donald Trump, a critic of protests during the anthem, tweeted Friday, “What was Nike thinking?”
Kaepernick began a wave of protests by NFL players two seasons ago, first sitting and then kneeling during the national anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said at the time.
The anthem has been a particularly thorny issue for the NFL, whose television viewership has fallen sharply since Kaepernick’s first protest in 2016. Ratings for Thursday night’s game were the lowest for a season opener in a decade.
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