At about $81.80 in mid-day trading, shares in the sports apparel giant are now above their level on Aug. 31, just before Kaepernick’s “Just Do It” campaign was announced. The drop after the ad news shaved more than $4 billion off of the company’s market value.
Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, has been under contract with Nike for several years but is gaining a new platform thanks to the new sponsorship deal, to the alarm of his detractors. He is also pursuing a grievance against the league after none of its 32 teams signed him to a contract. He last played in 2016.
Fans last week were sharing videos of themselves burning, cutting or destroying Nike shoes and gear, spreading the hashtag #boycottnike. The source of their ire is Kaepernick’s leading of anthem protests. He is credited with being the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem in protest of social injustice. The kneeling has correlated with — and been cited by some TV executives as a cause of — ratings declines for NFL telecasts over the past two seasons.
President Donald Trump didn’t hesitate to jump into the fray, attacking via Twitter and including Nike as a talking point at a recent rally. He continued to prod his base over the weekend, retweeting posts and memes about the anthem controversy. He kicked off his attack on the company with a brief tweet, “What was Nike thinking?”
The fact that the president’s attacks have ultimately had no effect on its stock represents something of a milestone in the Trump Era. His past outbursts have had a more tangible impact on companies, prompting entire new chapters in the corporate strategy playbook for how to respond to his tweeted broadsides.
Nike shares are on a roll, up 58% over the past 12 months, compared with a gain of 16% for rival Under Armour.