Nike board member: We knew about Kaepernick ad beforehand but CEO didn't need our permission

  • Nike CEO Mark Parker "certainly doesn't need board approval to figure out where to run an ad," director Beth Comstock says.
  • Comstock, also a former GE vice chair, says the Nike board knew about the Colin Kaepernick ad before it was released.

Nike director Beth Comstock said Tuesday that the sports apparel giant's management and CEO Mark Parker informed the board about the controversial Colin Kaepernick ad before it was released.

But Comstock, also a former vice chair of General Electric, said Parker didn't need the board's permission before running a "Just Do It" campaign featuring the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

"Parker runs the company really well," Comstock said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," while also commenting about the new China tariffs. Parker "certainly doesn't need board approval to figure out where to run an ad," she added.

Kaepernick first tweeted about being in the campaign on Labor Day.

Due to his activism, the Kaepernick tweet quickly went viral, pulling waves of both support and backlash.

Nike shares fell more than 3 percent the next day.

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, Nike released the actual ad, and President Donald Trump slammed it in an interview with the conservative media outlet Daily Caller.

Since that initial decline, Nike gained about 4.5 percent as of Monday's close, hitting a record high.

By midday Tuesday, shares of the Dow Jones Industrial Average component were adding about another 2 percent after Canaccord Genuity told clients that Nike could see a sales boost from the Kaepernick ad.

In recent days, other firms have also been bullish on Nike, including Piper Jaffray and Wedbush Securities.

While a member of the 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to protest the treatment of African-Americans in the United States, which received mixed reactions.

Other athletes later joined in his protest, sparking a controversy that has been linked to declining television ratings for National Football League games.

In May, the NFL banned on-field kneeling during the anthem but allowed for players who don't want to stand to stay in the locker room until the anthem is over.

However, two months later, the NFL and the players' union said no new rules on the anthem will be enforced.

— CNBC's Lauren Thomas contributed to this report.

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