Nike did it.
They took the glorious afro-ed Colin Kaepernick, the face of a movement against the killings of unarmed black men, women and children, and made him the face of their “Just Do It” campaign.
It was a beautiful “fuck you” to the NFL, who essentially whiteballed the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback from playing in the league, as Nike scheduled the commercials to run during the league’s highest-profile football games.
White guys took to social media to burn their “Chew Spit Cup 4s” because they weren’t going to support a company that so openly supported a
righteous black man someone who dared disrespect their beloved flag.
Sales at Nike not only increased, they skyrocketed. “Nike’s stock recently hit an all-time high and has gone up nearly five percent since the Kaepernick ads launched in early September. That translates to an additional $6 billion in market value,” reports to Yahoo Sports.
Nike became the corporate face who was willing to put their money where their mouth was. Or were they?
According to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics—a non-profit, non-partisan research group focusing on money in politics—“Nike employees and its political action committee have donated more than three times as much money to Republican candidates as democratic challengers for the 2018 election season,” Yahoo Sports reports.
Here’s how Yahoo Sports details the contributions:
In all, Nike has given $424,000 to the GOP compared to $122,000 to Democrats. The findings follow a recent trend showing Nike has donated more to Republicans than Democrats in every election cycle since 2010 with the exception of 2016.
According to the report, nearly half of all donated funds from Nike employees has come from co-founder Phil Knight and his family.
The Knight family has also given $1.5 million to Republican Knute Buehler in his race for Oregon governor against incumbent democrat Kate Brown. The contribution is the largest individual donation to an Oregon candidate since the state started electronically tracking such dealings in 2006.
Nike World Headquarters are located Beaverton, Oregon.
And this becomes the obvious issue with taking a grassroots movement corporate. Historically Republicans have been the party of big business and, while supporting Kaepernick’s movement was in part a proactive decision by a large company to be on the right side of history, it was always a business decision. You don’t have to have a business degree from Wharton to look at those who oppose Kaepernick’s movement and those who line up outside Nike stores waiting for Nike Off-White Jordans to drop to realize that supporting Kaepernick is a sound business move.
So, Nike, the big company with the conscience, is in line with white supremacy’s favorite sneaker New Balance. (I have no idea if New Balance if the actual sponsor of white supremacists, as I would assume that they are not, but they make a really comfortable walking shoe that is great for carrying tiki torches.)
“Both Nike and New Balance have each given more than $1.2 million to Republican candidates since 2010, however, Nike has also donated more than $900,000 to Democrats over that same time span. By comparison, Adidas and Under Armour have donated less than $600,000 combined to both parties since 2010,” Yahoo Sports reports.
What does all of this mean?
Well, that Nike is who we thought they were. Nike has always been a company with a troubling past including a major push to not only continue running sweatshops but merely moving the sweatshops to other countries once protest grew.
It must also be noted that as co-founder and chairman Emeritus, Phil Knight, is no longer running the show at Nike, although he is the company’s biggest shareholder, according to Forbes.
But Phil Knight is also a rich white man. And rich white men are always going to support other rich white men. I’m sure that Knight and the high-paid executives who can afford to donate thousands to Republican candidates are too busy shoveling money into their wheelbarrows to feel threatened by Colin Kaepernick’s protest.
And Nike’s business decision to put Kaepernick as the public face of a campaign is no more heroic or business-minded than Nike’s decision to kick money to the party that takes care of major money. It’s all business.
Or as Joshua Hunt put it in his piece for the Atlantic: “One of capitalism’s most enduring myths is the idea that there are good corporations and bad corporations. The truth is far more simple: Colin Kaepernick has a dream, and selling dreams is Nike’s business.”