On the roof of the Nike store in San Francisco
On the roof of the Nike store in San Francisco Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nike has been on a bit of a progressive rebranding as of late. Sure, the company used sweatshop labor until the late '90s, but this month, they launched an ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick that has some progressives singing the company's praises and spreading its message for them.

It was a savvy move: According to Reuters, since the ad was released, Nike has sold 61 percent more merchandise (despite that fact that red caps keep burning the socks and shoes they already paid for). But does Nike's political spending reflect progressive values?


According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), during the 2018 election cycle, Nike employees, along with the company PAC, contributed $424,000 to Republican candidates and the GOP, compared with only $122,000 to the Democrats. That means 78 percent of the company's political contributions are to the GOP. And this, according to CRP's Nihal Krishan, is par for the course. "With a couple notable exceptions like the 2008 and 2016 election cycles, Nike has a track record of giving much more to Republicans than Democrats in the past decade," Krishan wrote in a blog post. "During the 2010, 2012 and 2014 election cycles, Nike gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans, with 76 percent, 69 percent and 59 percent of their contributions going to the GOP in each of those cycles respectively."

Almost half of this year's donations come from Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife, who have donated at least $1.5 million to Oregon gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler, who is—surprise—a Republican. Buehler, who is running against incumbent Gov. Kate Brown, supports lower taxes for corporations and ending Oregon's sanctuary law for undocumented immigrants.

Want to support progressive companies? Great. But despite the Kaepernick campaign, Nike just ain't it.