Fact Check

Did Nike End $20M Partnership with Colin Kaepernick?

Coincidentally, the athlete-turned-activist had just announced his new fashion collaboration with Nike and Joy Yamusangie.

Published Nov 7, 2023

 (Tom Hauck / Getty Images)
Image Via Tom Hauck / Getty Images
In September 2023, Nike ended a $20 million partnership with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for being "a tad too woke."

On Sept. 16, 2023, SpaceXMania published an article claiming that Nike had ended its partnership with former NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick because he was a "tad too woke."

‘A Bit Too Woke for Us’: Nike Ends $20 Million partnership with Colin Kaepernick

In a shockingly candid press release this morning, Nike, the global sportswear titan, announced the termination of its $20 million partnership with Colin Kaepernick. The reason? The former NFL quarterback is, in Nike’s own words, “perhaps a tad too woke for our tastes.”

The article was shared on the site's Facebook page, SpaceX Lovers, after the article was posted, but a second post promoting the article followed on Nov. 7. Both posts featured comments supporting Nike's supposed statement, implying that the readers believed the article was real.

It was not real, however — the article was originally published on SpaceXMania with a "satire" tag. The website notes in its disclaimer that articles it marks as satire, which is most of the website's output, do not have any basis in reality:

Please note that the article under the category “SATIRE” are satirical in nature and are not meant to be taken seriously. These articles are meant to be humorous and are often entirely made up. We make no claim that the information presented in these articles is true or accurate.

Readers should exercise caution and use their own judgment when reading and interpreting our satirical articles. We take no responsibility for any actions taken based on the content of these articles.

Kaepernick last played in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, the same year he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. After the 49ers released him at the end of the year, Kaepernick was not signed by another team for the next year. He filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, but the complaint was settled in 2019.

He first partnered with Nike in 2011 after entering the NFL, and the relationship has continued through his transition into activism. Nike released Kaepernick's clothing collaboration with artist Joy Yamusangie on Oct. 27, 2023.

The former quarterback has been a frequent target of misinformation because of his activism. Most recently, Snopes checked three claims about Kaepernick, all of which were false and originated from SpaceXMania satire articles.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.


“A Bit Too Woke for Us”: Nike Ends $20 Million Partnership with Colin Kaepernick. 16 Sept. 2023, https://spacexmania.com/a-bit-too-woke-for-us-nike-ends-20-million-partnership-with-colin-kaepernick/.

Benson, Pat. “Colin Kaepernick Is Getting Another Nike Collaboration.” Sports Illustrated FanNation Kicks News, Analysis and More, 26 Oct. 2023, https://www.si.com/fannation/sneakers/news/nike-colin-kaepernick-team-up-on-apparel-collection.

Creswell, Julie, et al. “Nike Nearly Dropped Colin Kaepernick Before Embracing Him.” The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2018. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/sports/nike-colin-kaepernick.html.

Disclaimer - SpaceXMania. 3 Jan. 2021, https://spacexmania.com/disclaimer/.

“Kaepernick, Reid Settle Grievances against NFL.” ESPN.Com, 15 Feb. 2019, https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/26004715/colin-kaepernick-eric-reid-settle-grievance-case-nfl.

LaMagdeleine, Izz Scott. “Was Colin Kaepernick Fired from His 1st Coaching Job?” Snopes, 30 Oct. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/colin-kaepernick-fired-coach/.

Liles, Jordan. “Did Colin Kaepernick’s Adopted Parents ‘Come Clean’ and Say ‘He’s Not Really Black and He Knows It’?” Snopes, 25 Oct. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/kaepernicks-parents-come-clean/.

News, A. B. C. “QB Colin Kaepernick Files Grievance for Collusion against NFL Owners.” ABC News, https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/qb-colin-kaepernick-files-grievance-collusion-nfl-owners/story?id=50499785. Accessed 7 Nov. 2023.

PerryCook, Taija. “Did Colin Kaepernick ‘Beg’ to Rejoin Team and Vow to Never Kneel Again?” Snopes, 1 Nov. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/kaepernick-rejoin-team/.g

Jack Izzo is a Chicago-based journalist and two-time "Jeopardy!" alumnus.