Trump Breaks Silence on Nike Ad, Is He Changing His Tune?


President Donald Trump responded Tuesday to Nike’s ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick by speaking bluntly — as he always has as president — while also sounding very businesslike on the matter.

Trump, not surprisingly, said he doesn’t agree with Nike’s message of painting Kaepernick as a hero. “I think it’s a terrible message,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller.

On the other hand, Trump acknowledged that it’s Nike’s right to make business decisions that some customers won’t agree with.

“In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it,” Trump said.

Why not blast Nike for the ads the way he’s blasted the NFL? Perhaps it’s because, as Trump revealed, he’s had a business relationship with Nike.

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“Nike is a tenant of mine. They pay a lot of rent,” Trump said.

As far as being Nike’s landlord, that was the case when the company’s NikeTown store leased 65,000 square feet of space in a Trump property in New York City. However, that store closed earlier this year. Nike is opening a new flagship store next year less than a mile away from the NikeTown location.

It’s possible the president isn’t up to date on the current list of tenants in the Trump Organization properties. After all, he’s been a bit busy since moving into a new location of his own on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Or perhaps Nike is still paying rent on a lease that hasn’t yet expired even though they closed the store.

Regardless, it’s hard for Trump or anyone else not to be up to date on Kaepernick and the controversy his social activism has generated over the past two years.

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Kaepernick began kneeling instead of standing during the national anthem prior to NFL games while he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. The move immediately drew the ire of people who believed the gesture was disrespectful to the country and the United States military, who are often saluted on the field as part of the anthem ceremony at NFL games.

Kaepernick claimed at the time he was kneeling because he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” especially with what he perceived as the racist treatment of African-Americans by police.

As protests expanded to a handful of players on virtually every NFL team, Trump called out the NFL last season for not disciplining players who refused to stand for the anthem. Critics of the president claimed he disagreed with the protesters primarily because they were black.

With another NFL season about to begin this week, Nike decided to re-ignite the anthem debate by featuring Kaepernick in a new advertisement campaign, which might prove to be its biggest fumble yet.

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The initial ads featuring Kaepernick — who has not played in the league since the end of the 2016 season — sparked plenty of criticism and even calls for boycotts of the company’s products.

The stock market didn’t think too highly of Nike’s signing of Kaepernick either; shares of Nike fell over 3 percent Tuesday. That equates to about a $4.2 billion loss in the company’s market value.

In addition, #NikeBoycott has been trending on Twitter, according to CNN.

Some market analysts like Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, suggested that the ad could alienate customers. Meanwhile, other analysts claimed the controversy could be good for Nike.

It is too early to tell if Nike will be hurt in the long term, but the backlash is certainly not helping it in the immediate.

Some Twitter users have resorted to burning or destroying their Nike gear to vent their frustration with Nike’s choice.

Trump seemed to take an “I-told-you-so” attitude with the reaction to Nike’s campaign, and how the larger issue of anthem protests is being handled — or mishandled — by the NFL.

“Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”

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Malachi Bailey is a writer from Ohio with a background in history, education and philosophy. He has led multiple conservative groups and is dedicated to the principles of free speech, privacy and peace.
Malachi Bailey is a writer from Ohio with a passion for free speech, privacy and peace. He graduated from the College of Wooster with a B.A. in History. While at Wooster, he served as the Treasurer for the Wooster Conservatives and the Vice President for the Young Americans for Liberty.
Topics of Expertise
Politics, History