Nike thinks it can attract like-minded star athletes by featuring Colin Kaepernick in its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" marketing campaign, according to sources who spoke with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Many professional athletes side with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, whose 2016 national anthem protests aimed at drawing attention to the treatment of African-Americans spread like wildfire in the NFL.
"If you [Nike] think you're in the business of attracting big-name athletes to be your endorsers — and you think kids go out and buy sneakers because of those endorsers — that's [the reason]," Sorkin said Friday on "Squawk Box."
Despite backlash from some sports fans and President Donald Trump, Nike sees the move as a "business marketing decision," said Sorkin, who is also a columnist for The New York Times and founder and editor-at-large of the Times' DealBook. "They also think this is a moral issue."