The Rock, after all, wants to keep selling his Under Armour-brand footwear. And so the Rock offered up a very carefully worded statement on Thursday in what appears to be an attempt to diffuse the growing controversy over Plank’s words, which inspired many on social media to call for a boycott of the brand and other Under Armour athletes to speak out.
“I appreciate and welcome the feedback from the people who disagree (and agree) with Kevin Plank’s words on CNBC,” the 44-year-old actor and WWE superstar said in a statement posted to Twitter. “But these are neither my words, nor my beliefs. [Plank’s] words were divisive and lacking in perspective, inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of Under Armour’s partners and … employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO. … A good company is not solely defined by its CEO.”
While Johnson appeared to take a pretty serious shot at Plank, noting, “great leaders inspire and galvanize the masses during turbulent times, they don’t cause people to divide and disband,” he offered up just as strong a defense of the brand.
“A good company is not a single person. A good company is a team, a group of brothers and sisters committed to working together each and every day to provide for their families and one another and the clients they serve,” Johnson said.
He continued: “I partner with brands I trust and with people who share my same values. That means a commitment to diversity, inclusion, community, open-mindedness and some serious hard work.”
The “Ballers” star said that doesn’t mean the entire team will always agree on everything, but that “debate is healthy.”
“But in a time of widespread disagreement, so is loyalty,” added Johnson, who currently tops Forbes’ list of highest-paid Hollywood stars.
“My responsibility here is not only to the global audience we serve, but also to the thousands of workers who pour blood, sweat and tears into making Under Armour strong,” he said, describing the company’s team as “a diverse group of hardworking men and women, who possess integrity, respect and compassion for one another and the world they live in.”
“I feel an obligation to stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour and the reason I chose to partner with them,” he continued. “My commitment is as real as my sweat and callouses that thicken daily.”
That Johnson’s statement struck such an even-keeled tone is not a surprise. The star, who leans Republican, has toyed with the idea of a political run of his own.
“I’ll be honest, I haven’t ruled politics out. I’m not being coy when I say that, but at the moment I am not sure,” Johnson told British GQ last year said. “I can’t deny that the thought of being governor, the thought of being president, is alluring. And beyond that, it would be an opportunity to make a real impact on people’s lives on a global scale.”
Johnson has not disclosed which candidate he voted for in the last presidential election. The usually lighthearted actor, however, struck a serious tone shortly after Trump was proclaimed the winner last November, noting “many Americans are heartbroken and many Americans are happy, on his Instagram account.
“Let’s let the emotions of both sides settle and focus on our future,” he added. “Concentrate on things we can control… work ethic, attitude, faith etc.”
Plank, meanwhile, was one of several business leaders who met with Trump on the 45th president’s first full day in office in last month. The meeting resulted in Trump announcing his administration would be “cutting regulation massively” and threatening to impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move production abroad.
On Tuesday, Plank appeared on CNBC’s “Halftime Report,” where he praised Trump, noting that having “such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country.”
Plank’s comments inspired a wave of backlash on social media, including calls to #BoycottUnderArmour on Twitter.
While the business itself tried to diffuse the situation on Wednesday, releasing a statement that read, “We engage in policy, not politics,” a handful of Under Armour-sponsored athletes began speaking out, some in harsh terms.
Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, for instance, said he agreed Trump was an asset, “if you remove the ‘-et.’ “
Under Armour-sponsored ballerina Misty Copeland, meanwhile, used more measured language about the issue, but demanded Plank and Under Armour go further in taking “public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values.”
“I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about … the importance of diversity and inclusion,” she wrote on Instagram on Thursday. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.”
Under Armour did not immediately return The Post’s request for comment.