Who Is Kevin Plank? The Under Armour CEO Resigned From Trump's Manufacturing Council
In a seemingly political statement, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank resigned from Trump's manufacturing council Monday night. He curiously said that "Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics" even though the choice to leave would seem to come on the heels of Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier's departure. Frazier explicitly mentioned "a responsibility to take a stand against violence and extremism." Thus Plank's leaving can only be taken as political.
His statement's vague wording didn't stop the praise on Twitter. Many read into his decision, and particularly the timing, as a statement against white supremacy and Trump's less-than-satisfactory statement after the Charlottesville violence.
Shannon Coulter, co-founder of Grab Your Wallet, a website that leads boycotts against companies that work with Trump or the Trump Organization, definitely read into the statement. "Thank you to CEO Kevin Plank for taking a stand against divisiveness, racism, and hate," Coulter tweeted.
The actual wording, though, left Plank's reasoning entirely up to the imagination. "I love our country & company," he tweeted with the statement. "I am stepping down from the council to focus on inspiring & uniting through power of sport." The idea of unity and inclusiveness being achieved through sports was repeated again in the longer statement. He spoke of the "power of sport, which promotes unity, diversity, and inclusion."
Plank's take on what has happened in recent days is not altogether a secret, though. On Monday, Plank did comment on the violence in Charlottesville on Twitter. He wrote, "There is no place for racism or discrimination in this world. We choose love & unity."
Plank's decision to join in the first place was controversial. He said in a CNBC interview, "To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity." That upset many athletes tied to the brand as well as consumers. Before ultimately buying a one-page ad to defend his joining, he released a statement on the matter:
These are not new or revised values. This is what we believe. Under Armour and Kevin Plank are for job creation and American manufacturing capability. We believe building should be focused on much needed education, transportation, technology and urban infrastructure investment. We are against a travel ban and believe that immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America like Under Armour.
Perhaps the Baltimore-based CEO of the popular activewear brand will take a permanent break from politics.