Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has been forced to explain his recent expression of support for new US president Donald Trump, after one of the sporting company’s biggest endorsers voiced their disapproval.
Plank praised Trump in a recent interview with business news channel CNBC, saying it was a “real asset” for the US to have such a “pro-business president”.
“People can really grab that opportunity,” he said.
Under Armour happens to be a major sponsor of NBA star Stephen Curry, paying him at least $15 million annually, and giving him a stake in the shoe and apparel company through to 2024, according to ESPN.
Curry was surprised by Plank’s praise for Trump, and made it clear what he thought of the Under Armour CEO’s comments when asked by The Mercury News.
“I agree with that description,” Curry said, “if you remove the ‘et’” from asset.
Plank’s comments also became a hot topic on social media, with #BoycottUnderArmour trending on Twitter.
It forced Under Armour to clarify Plank’s comments in a statement, claiming they were from a business perspective and did not reflect the company’s social stance.
“At Under Armour, our culture has always been about optimism, teamwork, and unity. We have engaged with both the prior and the current administrations in advocating on business issues that we believe are in the best interests of our consumers, teammates, and shareholders,” the statement said.
“Kevin Plank was recently invited at the request of the president of the United States to join the American Manufacturing Council as part of a distinguished group of business leaders. He joined CEOs from companies such as Dow Chemical, Dell, Ford, GE and Tesla, among others, to begin an important dialogue around creating jobs in America. We believe it is important for Under Armour to be a part of that discussion.
“We have always been committed to developing innovative ways to support and invest in American jobs and manufacturing. For years, Under Armour has had a long-term strategy for domestic manufacturing and we recently launched our first women’s collection made in our hometown of Baltimore, MD. We are incredibly proud of this important first step in the evolution of creating more jobs at home.
“We engage in policy, not politics. We believe in advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country, and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore.
“We have teammates from different religions, races, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations; different ages, life experiences and opinions. This is the core of our company. At Under Armour, our diversity is our strength, and we will continue to advocate for policies that Protect Our House, our business, our team, and our community.”
And it seems like Plank’s explanation did the trick in keeping Curry onside, with the NBA star telling The Mercury News that the statement reflected “the Under Armour that I know”.
However, Curry didn’t dismiss the possibility of ditching Under Armour if it adopted Trump’s values.
“If I can say [Under Armour’s] leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am,” he said.