Three of Under Armour’s most high-profile athletes have publicly rebuked the company’s CEO, Kevin Plank, for calling President Donald Trump a “real asset” and praising him for his pro-business policies.
NBA star Stephen Curry, actor and professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ballerina Misty Copeland have all voiced their disagreement with Plank’s comments on Trump, which were made in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday.
Speaking with the Mercury News, Curry said he agreed with Plank, “if you remove the ‘et’” from asset. Curry also said he had reached out to Plank, who is also on a manufacturing council appointed by Trump, for an explanation, and the sports apparel executive told him he was solely referring to Trump’s business policies, not his policies regarding women, refugees, immigrants and minorities.
Curry told the Mercury News he will continue his relationship with Under Armour but also made it clear that he would leave the company if he felt it conflicted with his values.
Johnson, a popular actor whose movies have grossed more than $2.5 billion, released a statement on Instagram Thursday saying he would remain affiliated with the brand despite disagreeing with Plank’s statement.
“His words were divisive and lacking in perspective, inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of UA’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson also said the main reason for his continued commitment to Under Armour was the “diverse group of hardworking men and women who possess integrity, respect and compassion for one another and the world they live in” that work for the company.
Copeland also issued a statement on Instagram, saying she had also spoken to Plank and that she “strongly” disagreed with his statements. She also called on him to “take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values.”
Copeland’s rise in the ballet world to become the first African-American prima ballerina for the American Ballet Theater garnered intense media coverage, and her series of ads with Under Armour were credited with boosting the company’s sales against competitors like Nike and Lululemon, per Business Insider.
But as of late, Under Armour’s financial outlook has looked bleak, making Plank’s comments even more controversial. On Jan. 31, the company’s stock plummeted 25 percent, and while it has made some gains in the week since, it is still at its lowest point in years, per CNN Money.
After Plank’s interview was published, the company scrambled to issue a statement controlling the fallout. In the statement, the company stated its committment to diversity of “different religions, races, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations; different ages, life experiences and opinions,” per the Baltimore Sun.
Curry, Johnson and Copeland are three of the most prominent African-American athletes signed with Under Armour, and they are the only ones to distance themselves from Plank’s statement. Meanwhile several other high-profile athletes associated with the brand have remained silent on the matter.
NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who has a personal relationship with Trump, has consistently avoided questions about his politics for the past year. Another NFL star, Cam Newton, told the Charlotte Observer he has no plans to comment on the situation. MLB star Bryce Harper has worn a Trump-inspired hat during an interview but has otherwise steered clear of political statements. Golfer Jordan Spieth made headlines Thursday for ripping professional autograph speakers but said nothing on Trump. And skiier Lindsey Vonn has also been quiet on that front.