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Nike's value is up $26.2B since Colin Kaepernick endorsement. Now it’s close to unveiling his shoe

Charles Robinson
NFL columnist

Roughly 14 months since Nike signed Colin Kaepernick to a new star-level endorsement deal, the signature shoe that was the centerpiece of the agreement is set to be rolled out in December, shoe industry sources told Yahoo Sports.

The inclusion of a shoe and a Kaepernick branded “Icon” jersey was first reported by Yahoo Sports in 2018, with his footwear rollout speculated to be on track for the 2019 holiday season. Sources told Yahoo Sports this week that Nike is expecting a nationwide release of the shoe early next month as it continues to develop the company’s endorsement strategy around Kaepernick.

Although the total number of Icon jerseys sold by Nike is unknown, the February online release of that item sold out in a matter of hours. Priced at $150 upon release, the authentic versions of the Nike jersey now sell on the secondary market for $300 or more. Counterfeit versions of the jersey have also spread across secondary clothing sites for $50 or more.

Sources declined to say how many Kaepernick shoes Nike would release, but the projected demand has been strong enough that the apparel giant ramped up production figures during the course of development.

Colin Kaepernick stretches before a workout for NFL scouts and media on Saturday in Riverdale, Georgia. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Images of Colin Kaepernick’s shoe have popped up

Images of the shoe have leaked in recent days, with Kaepernick appearing to wear a pair of them while stretching at his recent Atlanta workout.

Kaepernick confidant and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid also posted a photo of the shoes on his Instagram on Sunday, with the caption: “Game day fit You already know #ImwithKap y’all see the kicks”.

Nike’s bold move paying off?

Nike’s ride with Kaepernick has been a wild one, with the initial endorsement sparking a shuddering divide among consumers that has seemingly been emblematic of almost everything tied to the former NFL quarterback. However, proclamations of doom for the company have been sorely mistaken, as Nike’s sales figures boomed in the ensuing months after the deal. It’s a timeframe that also included a well-received commercial featuring Kaepernick coining the phrase “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

As of Wednesday, Nike’s stock rose over 18 percent since the announcement of the Kaepernick deal, adding a whopping $26.2 billion to the company’s bottom line and valuing it at nearly $146 billion. While that bump is associated with a wide range of factors across the corporation, the notion of a Kaepernick-centered campaign being an albatross for sales and popularity has never come close to materializing.

The success has come with controversy about Kaepernick’s influence on product lines. Last June, Kaepernick was a key influencer in Nike pulling a Betsy Ross-themed shoe before it hit circulation, recalling nationwide shipments just days before its release. The shoes featured a colonial era version of the American flag with 13 stars in a circle, which has been co-opted by a handful of white nationalist groups as a symbol of their movement.

After the concerns of Kaepernick and others were shared with Nike, the company scuttled the release, stating that the company didn’t want to unintentionally offend consumers. In the wake of that decision, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey threatened to wipe out financial incentives for a Nike factory that was planned within the state. Days later, Ducey receded from that threat, stating that he “welcomed” Nike to Arizona, along with the jobs the new factory was set to create.

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