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Trump, LeBron James wade into row over Nike's Kaepernick ad

Justin Sullivan, AFP | A billboard featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is displayed on the roof of the Nike Store at Union Square in San Francisco, California.

US President Donald Trump attacked Nike over its support for Colin Kaepernick as the first video ad featuring the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is set to air Thursday during the NFL's season opener.


The advertisement, titled "Dream Crazy," which was released first on Twitter and YouTube, features Kaepernick narrating over images and footage of various athletes with inspirational stories, including NBA icon LeBron James, tennis star Serena Williams and Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge.

"Don't ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they're crazy enough," Kaepernick asks at the end of the spot, which will be aired during Thursday's season-opening NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons.

Kaepernick became a polarising figure in 2016 after taking to one knee instead of standing during the national anthem in an effort to draw attention to racial injustice and police brutality in America.

Nike revealed on Monday that Kaepernick would be at the centre of a new campaign to mark the 30th anniversary of the company's "Just Do It" slogan, prompting a flood of debate.

The endorsement deal with Nike was a trending topic on Twitter and other social networks, with some fans urging a boycott of the company's clothes and sneakers - even burning and cutting out the signature swoosh logos on their gear.

President Trump, who on Tuesday described Nike's deal with Kaepernick as "terrible," said the sports equipment giant's endorsement of the ex-NFL star had backfired in another angry tirade on Wednesday.

"Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts," Trump wrote on Twitter.

"I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!".

But Kaepernick and his Nike campaign, which marks the 30th anniversary of Nike's "Just Do It," has also received plenty of support from prominent figures in sport and fashion.

"I stand for anybody that believes in change. I stand for anybody that believes in a positive attitude," LeBron James said Tuesday night at a fashion show and awards ceremony in New York.

"I stand with Nike, every day, all day," James added.

‘Sons of bitches’

Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the brink of a Super Bowl victory in 2013, has been unable to find employment with an NFL team since being released by San Francisco in 2017.

He is currently suing the NFL, alleging team owners colluded to keep him out of the sport.

His protest in 2016 came after the deaths of several unarmed black men during confrontations with law enforcement.

In 2017 Trump decried NFL players who refused to stand for the US anthem as "sons of bitches" who should be fired.

That in turn triggered a wave of fresh protests across the NFL, which remains America's most popular major sport.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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