Nike Takes a Chance on Kaepernick

Former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be the new celebrity face of Nike's "Just Do It" campaign. Kaepernick was the center of controversy when players were both complimented and criticized for "taking a knee" to protest racism and promote social justice.

Nike and Kaepernick already had a sponsorship deal, but this new contract extends it. The deal may be "awkward," to use The New York Times's phrase, because the NFL has not been able to stop player protests, to the dismay of President Trump and others.

Also, Kaepernick hasn't played in the league since 2016 and has an active grievance, accusing the league of conspiring to prevent him from playing.

But neither Nike nor Kaepernick are shying away from the message. The first ad shows Kaepernick with the caption, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."

As part of the deal, Nike will contribute to "Know Your Rights," Kaepernick's foundation to "fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism.


  • What risks is Nike taking with this contract? Do you believe the campaign will be well received, divisive, or something else?

  • Nike didn't respond to The New York Times for comment about the story. Should the company include a comment or make a statement? Why or why not?

  • What leadership character dimensions are illustrated by this story?