Two more world-class athletes and paid endorse Under Armour endorsers have joined Steph Curry in publicly calling out CEO Kevin Plank for supporting President Donald Trump on national TV earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Plank said in an interview on CNBC that he sees Donald Trump as a “real asset” to the United States, thanks in part to his business savvy. “To have such a pro-business President is something that is a real asset for the country,” Plank said. “People can really grab that opportunity.”
Curry, star point guard for the Golden State Warriors and poster child for the company’s basketball line, was among the first of the brand’s athletes to speak up. “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et’ from asset,” he quipped to the San Jose Mercury News. Asked if he would ever leave Under Armour, he responded, “there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if [its leadership] wasn’t in line with who I am.”
Two more elite names joined the public commentary yesterday, and they weren’t happy. In many ways, the pair couldn’t be more different. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, built his career on smashing things (and people), flexing his muscles and, later, a healthy mix of fine acting and bashing heads in movies. Ballet dancer Misty Copeland, meanwhile, gained fame with her graceful dancing and powerful technique, becoming the first-ever black female principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater.
Johnson climbed into the ring yesterday with this statement about Plank via Twitter:
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 9, 2017
“I appreciate and welcome the feedback from the people who disagree (and agree) with Kevin Plank’s words on CNBC,” he said in his statement. “But these are neither my words, nor my beliefs. His words were divisive and lacking in perspective, inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of Under Armour’s partners and it’s [sic.] employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO.”
Without directly distancing himself from the company, Johnson said he stood by the thousands of employees from diverse backgrounds who work for Under Armour. “Debate is healthy, but in a time of widespread disagreement, so is loyalty,” he said. “I feel an obligation to stand with this diverse team the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour and the reason I chose to partner with them.”
Copeland said via Instagram that she “strongly” disagrees with Plank’s supportive words for the president who aims to build a wall along the southern U.S. border.
“Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion,” she said. “It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.”
Copeland said she, like Curry, had a chance to speak with the Baltimore CEO, but that she wanted him and Under Armour to “take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values.”
The company tried to communicate that notion yesterday, releasing a statement that said, in part, that its leaders “engage in policy, not politics,” and believe in fair trade, inclusive immigration policies and tax reform that creates jobs both locally in Maryland and across the United States.
This morning, Under Armour issued a second statement directly referencing one of Trump’s most controversial policies: his travel ban for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, currently stayed in federal court. Here it is in full:
These are not new or revised values. This is what we believe. Under Armour and Kevin Plank are for job creation and American manufacturing capability. We believe building should be focused on much needed education, transportation, technology and urban infrastructure investment. We are against a travel ban and believe that immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America like Under Armour.
There may be other athletes to follow, but Curry, Johnson and Copeland alone are applying a fair share of pressure on Plank by themselves. To make matters worse, Under Armour executives are standing by and watching the #BoycottUnderArmour hashtag circling social media, accompanying pledges by current or former customers to not buy any UA gear due to Plank’s affiliation with and support for Trump.
The boycott, along with the company’s severe drop in share price following an earnings miss announcement and spreading local discontent spurred by Councilman Ryan Dorsey’s criticism of Plank’s Port Covington development, have made for a pretty terrible week for Under Armour. The fallout from Plank’s CNBC appearance is only the bitter icing on the cake.
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