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For the past two years, Nike has kept Colin Kaepernick on the bench despite an endorsement partnership that dates back to 2011. In 2016, Kaepernick started using his platform as an NFL player to protest the extrajudicial killing of unarmed African Americans by police officers, among other tentacles of racism that reach American society. Kaepernick’s protest made him hugely controversial, and during the past two years, Nike hasn’t used the former 49ers quarterback as a spokesman even though he was under contract. Nike knows how to market an NFL quarterback, but even its politically outspoken athletes have tended to be known for their on-field achievements first.

Nevertheless, on Monday, Nike introduced Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, kicking off a new deal worth millions of dollars, comparable to the most lucrative deals Nike gives out to NFL players. The Oregon-based sportswear giant will not only use Kaepernick as a pitchman and style icon, but sell Kaepernick-branded apparel. This news comes at a time when even the memory of Kaepernick’s football career is fading.

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