Nike co-founder defies woke politics and donates $1 million to Republicans running for governor in Oregon: report

A co-founder and current chairman emeritus of the sportswear company Nike has apparently just changed teams. Now, less than a month before Election Day and just about a month after donating millions of dollars to one of her opponents, he has donated $1 million to the Republican nominee for Oregon’s gubernatorial campaign.

Phil Knight, who helped found the company that would become Nike and is now the richest Man in the state of Oregon made a significant contribution as a result to Christine Drazan, a Republican who has risen sharply in the polls of late, even though Oregon has not elected a Republican governor in more than 40 years. At the moment, Survey show that Drazan is neck and neck with Democratic opponent Tina Kotek, and in some cases Drazan is even a point or two ahead.

Another candidate who remains in the running but falls well short of Drazan and Kotek is Betsy Johnson, who served in the state legislature from 2001 until last year. Knight had made several donations to Johnson’s campaign throughout 2022, totaling about $3.5 million. His last contribution came on September 1 when he tipped Johnson’s coffers a whopping $2 million.

However, all that money hasn’t kept Johnson competitive. Johnson, who served as a Democrat in the Legislature but ran as an independent in the gubernatorial campaign, still lags far behind her competitors in the mainstream parties. While a recent Oregonian/OregonLive poll places Drazan and Kotek at 32% and 31%, respectively, Johnson ranks a distant third at just 18%.

Knight’s decision to move from Johnson to Drazan has almost certainly raised some eyebrows, but some may be even more surprised to see Knight deviate from the bright, left-wing politics Nike has supported for years. The company famously hired former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who made his name as a political activist when he knelt during the national anthem to become the face of Nike. Nike then paid Kaepernick millions of dollars to appear in ads with the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” to appear.

In other words, as Ian Miller from OutKick wrote, “Nike has generally moved in step with the tide of left-wing Current Thingism politics.” But now Knight has stepped out of that bright corporate ethos and funded a Republican who preferred to keep schools open during government shutdowns, who defended law enforcement at the height of the “defund the police” movement, and who now wants to confront it homeless crisis that has plagued the streets of Oregon lately.

Knight hasn’t publicly explained his decision, but his donation now leaves Drazan with $3.5 million more cash than either Kotek or Johnson. Although Johnson has raised the most this election cycle with $16.4 million, she now only has $1.8 million. Kotek still has $2.3 million of the $14.9 million she raised.

And at least one key commentator, OutKick founder Clay Travis, thinks Drazan could pull off the surprise in November.

“Crime has gotten so out of hand in Oregon that Nike founder Phil Knight has donated $1 million to @ChristineDrazan, who is trying to become Oregon’s first Republican governor since the 1980s,” Travis tweeted Sunday. “I think she will win. Great candidate.” Nike co-founder defies woke politics and donates $1 million to Republicans running for governor in Oregon: report

Laura Coffey

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