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Nike's Kaepernick Ad Prompts Swift, Divisive Reaction

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Nike's new "Just Do It" ad is sparking praise and outrage.

Nike selected former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of the campaign.

While with the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick started the movement to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustices.

The new ad says: "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."

Nike stock dipped 3 percent after the announcement.

Former NFL player, market analyst and CNBC host Pete Najarian said making such a controversial figure the face of a marketing campaign is highly unusual.

"It's really unique. It's really stepping out of the box," he said. "The market is down as well, so it's not just this but part of the reason Nike stock is down is this decision."

Najarian says Nike's move could serve to prolong the "take a knee" controversy that has weighed on the NFL.

"We have seen some of the reactions, we have seen some of the ratings, which obviously have slipped and there have been stadiums that have always been sold out that are not sold," he said.

Of course, any time the marketing arm of a major corporation makes move like this, it's about selling product. So far, it's not clear what impact this move will have on sales.

Reaction on social media was swift, with the hashtag #BoycottNike trending nationally.

Individual reactions were harsh.

Twitter user @sclancy79 lit a pair of Nikes on fire and could be heard saying: "Sorry Nike, I have been buying you for the past 20 years, no more."

But outside an athletic footwear store in Minneapolis, there was support for Nike and Kaepernick.

"I still don't understand the whole idea of people getting so upset about the whole thing starting with him kneeling, he has a right to protest," Jennifer Ortiz said.

Shopper Emily Mendoza said the Kaepernick ad probably makes her more likely to buy a pair of Nikes.

"I think a company as large as Nike is going to be just fine," she said.

WCCO reached out to both the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota Ahtletic Department. Nike is a sponsor of both.

We did not hear back from the Vikings. The Gophers said they would have no comment.

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