NBA player Jason Collins became the first male athlete in a major professional sports to come out as gay on Monday, and immediately speculation ramped up about potential endorsement deals.
Well, it turns out that Collins already has one important deal in the bag. He is signed to Nike, and this is exactly what the company wanted.
Nike reportedly had an initiative to jump on the first openly gay athlete in major U.S. team sports. The company asked Rick Welts, the president of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, to tell any gay athletes considering coming out that Nike would want him on board with its brand, according to a Bloomberg report earlier this month.
“They made it clear to me Nike would embrace it,” Welts told Bloomberg News. “The player who does it, they’re going to be amazed at the additional opportunities that are put on the table, not the ones that are taken off.”
Nike issued a short statement today, confirming Collins’ status. “Jason is a Nike athlete,” it read. “We are a company committed to diversity and inclusion.”
Collins is the second openly gay athlete Nike has backed recently. Women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, the first overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, openly discussed her sexuality in an interview with Sports Illustrated, and about a week later, Nike signed her to an endorsement deal.
Nike also hosted its first-ever LGBT sports summit last year, a three-day rendezvous to put together a game plan to end homophobia and transphobia in sports.
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