Nike launched a serious new ad campaign on Sunday touching on themes of race, equality and discrimination, and Tiger Woods appears to be along for the ride.
The campaign features several prominent athletes, including LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Victor Cruz, Gabby Douglas, Megan Rapinoe and Dalilah Muhammad, and Woods has already shown his support in what could perhaps be considered his first overtly political statement in several years.
The campaign includes a 90-second black-and-white ad featuring James, Williams and Durant over a version of Sam Cooke’s civil rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
A four-page spread in Sunday’s New York Times featured the campaign’s manifesto.
“Is this the land history promised? This field of play. Where the dream of fairness and mutual respect lives on. Where you are defined by actions, not your looks and beliefs. For too long these ideals have taken refuge inside these lines. Equality should have no boundaries. The bond between players should exist between people. Opportunity should be indiscriminate. Worth should outshine color. The ball should bounce the same for everyone. If we can be equals here, we can be equals everywhere.”
Nike is indeed selling ‘Equality’-branded apparel, but according to The Washington Post, the company has also pledged to donate $5 million to nonprofit organizations including Mentor and PeacePlayers International "that advance equality in communities across the U.S."
Woods’s support is surprising. Once hailed as a racial pioneer after becoming the first black golfer to win the Masters in 1997, Woods has grown conspicuously silent on social issues over the years. Following a bitter presidential campaign that resulted in the surprise election of Donald Trump, Woods teed it up with the president-elect at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach in December, frustrating those eager to see Woods take a stand against Trump’s divisive politics.
But Nike’s campaign launched after protests swept across the country this week in the wake of Trump’s controversial travel ban targeting immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries, and Woods’s message could signal the golfer’s intention to be more outspoken on issues important to him.