How the Heck Did Colin Kaepernick Win an Emmy Award?

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At the Creative Arts Emmy Awards over the weekend, a surprising name appeared on the list of winners. Football player and activist Colin Kaepernick picked up an Emmy. And no, he didn’t quit sports to follow his dream of being a sitcom actor.

The award we for his “Dream Crazy” commercial with Nike!

Today

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Nike chose Colin Kaepernick to be the star and narrator of their ambitious “Dream Crazy” ad in 2018. He had already been shunned by the NFL and personally denounced by the President of the United States, but their gamble

The ad featured clips of sports stars Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., and Eliud Kipchoge, among others. That list includes the women’s soccer team, co-captained by Megan Rapinoe, before they captured the world’s attention earlier this year! LeBron James is shown both on the court and in front of the school he founded for underprivileged kids, emphasizing the ad’s message that we should all push ourselves to do more and give more.

In addition, inspiring figures such as Alicia Woollcott, who was both a linebacker for her high school’s football team and homecoming queen, and Megan Blunk, a paralympian who won gold in basketball during the Rio games. 10-year-old wrestler Isaiah Bird, who was born without legs, and Charlie Jabaley who lost 120 lbs and beat a brain tumor to become an Iron Man athlete.

Throughout it all, Kaepernick’s narration encouraged viewers to keep working to their dreams. “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” he said. “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

Backlash and Blackballing

It’s a really inspiring ad, but there was–unsurprisingly–some very vocal criticism of the campaign. Kaepernick’s Nike ad followed the former QB’s decision to protest the National Anthem, beginning in 2016, to bring attention to the epidemic of police brutality and racism in America. The 49ers star chose to leave the team at the end of the 2017 season but remained unsigned as a free agent.

Kaepernick filed a grievance with the NFL in November of last year, claiming that the owners of the teams had conspired to shut him out of the game. In February 2019, he withdrew the complaint after reaching a settlement with the NFL.

That settlement–along with his no-doubt lucrative contract with Nike–means that we won’t see a broke Kaepernick hawking energy drinks outside a stadium anytime soon. He’s doing just fine, even if he never gets signed to another team.

Kaepernick Comes Out on Top

Since being effectively blackballed from the NFL, 31-year-old Kaepernick has focused on his activism. He’s also racked up a number of awards for his work, from Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Medal to the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Now he can add an Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial to the shelf.

Despite a certain segment of the population pledging to boycott Nike–or even setting their socks on fire in protest–the brand saw a $3 BILLION jump in market value following their partnership with Kaepernick.