Colin Kaepernick's decision to protest the United States national anthem during the preseason has reportedly caused a surge in jersey sales, making him the league's top seller.
Ahiza Garcia of CNN Money reported the news Wednesday after Darren Rovell of ESPN first noted Monday that Kaepernick was the San Francisco 49ers' top seller and No. 2 overall behind Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Rovell's report noted that the quarterback's gear has sold more over the past week than in the previous eight months combined.
On Wednesday, Kaepernick revealed on Instagram that he would donate all proceeds from the sale of his jersey "back into the communities," via Rovell:
Kaepernick, who's received both praise and criticism for his manner of taking a stand against racial injustice, either sat or knelt during the anthem over the team's exhibition slate. He explained the decision to Steve Wyche of NFL.com last month.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said. "To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street, and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
He also discussed the inherent risk of making such a strong public statement.
"This is not something that I am going to run by anybody," Kaepernick said. "I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."
Kim Hjelmgaard of USA Today noted that the backup QB received high-profile support Monday from President Barack Obama, who stated that Kaepernick was "exercising his constitutional right":
When it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us — that is a tough thing for them to get past. But I don't doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, he's generated more conversation about issues that have to be talked about.
Not everybody has agreed with Kaepernick's course of action. Ian Cull of NBC Bay Area reported that the Santa Clara Police Union threatened to boycott 49ers games during the upcoming season because of his comments about police brutality.
"The 49ers are allowing this to come out from an employee and it's making for a hostile work environment for us at the stadium," Santa Clara Police Officers Association President Frank Saunders said.
The impact of the controversy on Kaepernick's jersey sales is clear. Mike Rosenberg of the Seattle Times pointed out that Kaepernick's jersey ranked 20th in sales on San Francisco's website before the situation made national news. It's now skyrocketed to the top spot in just a few weeks.