Fake News: Nike Spokesman Colin Kaepernick Did NOT Call the United States the Worst Country in the World

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Nike Spokesman Colin Kaepernick Did NOT Call the United States the Worst Country in the World

Did Nike spokesman Colin Kaepernick call the United States the "Worst Country in the World"? No, that's not true: a headline making that claim only offers up one tweet from Kaepernick as evidence and that tweet doesn't even contain Kaepernick's own words (or even the phrase "worst country in the world"). Since the story was originally published it has been copy-pasted by several foreign-run fake news websites that have further spread the unsubstantiated claim.

The story originated from an article (archived here) where it was published by The David J. Harris Jr. on July 5, 2019 under the title "Nike Spokesman Colin Kaepernick Calls the United States the Worst Country in the World". It opened:

Nike, through their spokesman, Colin Kaepernick, has demonstrated what they think of this country, first by doing away with the Betsy Ross shoes and then by declaring that the United States is the worst country in the world. Nike axed the Betsy Ross shoes as being racist, but they are the ones who made patriotic shoes for China and Turkey, and now, declaring that this country is the worst one in the world. In my opinion, anyone who buys a Nike product is a traitor to this country. If they hate America so much, shouldn't they pull up stakes, leave, and never do business here again?

The story then goes on and offers up this tweet from Kaepernick's account as proof:

Note that the version of the tweet quoted in the article omits the video part. The quote comes from a speech given by anti-slavery campaigner Fredrick Douglass on July 5, 1852, years before the U.S. Civil War and while slavery still being practiced in the United States.

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"What the speech is saying is you must destroy first what you created and remake it, or it will be destroyed - and you with it"

Quoting a speech that criticizes past practices in the United States made by someone at the time these practices were actually going on is a far cry from saying the country is the "worst in the world" right now. Even if it is paired with a video decrying current police violence.

A search of Kaepernick's Twitter account for the phrase "worst country" yields no results at the time of writing.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes davidharrisjr.com as:

A hyperpartisan conservative site run by health and media entrepreneur David Harris Jr. that has published false and misleading stories.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

While it is perfectly fine to disagree with Colin Kaepernick's views and it is definitely OK to criticize the way in which he chooses to express them, it is not right to falsely attribute quotes to him.

Saying that the United States has some flaws that should be fixed does not equate with saying it is the "worst country in the world". If that were true Donald Trump's own campaign slogan ("Make America Great Again") would imply the same thing since it suggests America isn't "great" at the moment.


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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