The ads prompted immediate calls for Nike boycotts over Kaepernick, who has been castigated by President Donald Trump and other conservatives for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial and social injustice, a demonstration he began in 2016. Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game after some players knelt.
The company's stock also dipped.
Reaction to Nike's bold choice was swift on social media.
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Trump, without offering evidence, said in a post on Twitter that the sportswear company was "getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts".
While the move by Nike may have come as a surprise to some, Yahoo Sports reported that Adidas and Puma were among multiple brands that had conversations about potentially building around Kaepernick if Nike failed to renew his deal.
Some of the more rabid Kaepernick critics made a decision to start burning their own Nikes to show their anger, while others - like country musician John Rich of Big & Rich - took to Instagram to show that others are simply defacing their Nike gear in protest of the company's iconic swoosh logo. "Colin has the opportunity to believe what he wants", said Michael Baron, who was visiting Boston from Nashville. They've calculated risk. They may even have reason to believe this will make the brand more popular which means the guy burning his white air monarchs is in the minority. I feel like they can choose or they cannot choose.
"I think it's a pretty inspirational ad", added Newbury Street shopper Josh Wolff. In fact, sources told ESPN's Darren Rovell that none of the organizations Nike makes apparel for were privy to the Kaepernick ad before it was unveiled.
Many disagreed with Patrick and are applauding the company for siding with Kaepernick.