Nike’s decision to name controversial former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” campaign will sell a lot of shoes, according to former world championship boxer Oscar De Lay Hoya, who said athletes have a right to express their opinions thanks to the freedom of speech.
The decision to choose Kaepernick for the ad campaign spurred calls for a boycott of the company, with some taking to social media to show their disapproval. The former Niners quarterback began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games, starting in the summer of 2016, protesting racial injustice. Since then, many other players have participated in the movement, and politicians, most notably President Trump, have weighed in on the controversy.
De La Hoya said he is “split right down the middle” on the matter, and in his opinion, Nike made a good business decision.
“[Nike] is smart, they are the 800-pound gorilla,” he said. “The bottom line is maybe, fortunately or unfortunately, they are going to sell tennis shoes.”
De La Hoya, nicknamed “The Golden Boy,” represented the United States in the 1992 Summer Olympics. He described hearing the anthem as an honorable moment in his life.
“When I heard that national anthem … playing in the Olympics in 1992 [in] Barcelona, there wasn’t not a prouder moment that I ever felt,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
De La Hoya, now a boxing promoter, also discussed his own national anthem controversy associated with the upcoming fight between Gennady “GGG” Golovkin of Kazakhstan and Canelo Alvarez of Mexico.
De La Hoya said that even though Golovkin did not want to play the national anthem, it’s only right.
“For some reason they wanted to state in the contract that there’s no national anthems whatsoever,” he said. “Look, this is a proud moment for Kazakhstan, this is a proud moment for Mexico and this is a proud moment for the U.S. of A – we should be able to play the national anthem right before a major event like this.”
Golovkin versus Canelo will take place on Sept. 15 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. De La Hoya expects to generate more than $200 million in pay-per-view sales.