“Having a huge company back him — could be a controversial reason for this company, but they’re not afraid,” the tennis star said to a pool of reporters after advancing to the semifinals at the U.S. Open on Tuesday. “I feel like that was a really powerful statement to a lot of other companies.”
Indeed, while Nike’s shares took a hit on Monday amid the controversy, which saw some politically charged Twitter users sharing videos of themselves burning their sneakers and cutting the Swooshes out of their socks, the company also scored front-page press coverage in both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, a significant feat for an ad campaign amid the current chaotic news cycle. Kaepernick’s tweet — which reads, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” — has also already garnered more than a million combined likes and retweets.
Williams, who earlier this week tweeted that she was “especially proud to be part of the Nike family” in light of the new campaign, also spoke specifically about Kaepernick’s activism and the sacrifices he made by choosing to kneel during the singing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism.
“He’s done a lot for the African-American community, and it’s cost him a lot. It’s sad,” she said.
Athletes in general, she said, should be able to choose whether to use their platform to fight for social justice.
“My choice is to choose to just be the best, try to be. I’m not always perfect — actually I’m never perfect,” she said. “Just try to be the best that I can be. Maybe I can just influence one person, and that makes a change already.”
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