San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneels during the National Anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif. Arizona won 33-21. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneels during the National Anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 6, 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif. Aaron M. Sprecher—AP

How Pro Athletes Voted in the 2016 Presidential Election

Nov 08, 2016

Ever since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stopped standing during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, Donald Trump has been throwing shade his way. "I think it’s a terrible thing," Trump said about Kaepernick's protest. "And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won’t happen.”

At a rally in Colorado in late October, Trump offered two explanations for the NFL's much-discussed TV ratings decline this season. First, Trump said, the election was stealing viewers from football. "This politics they’re finding is a much rougher game than football, and more exciting," Trump said. And second, Kaepernick's anthem protest repelled fans. "The other reason is Kaepernick," Trump said. "Kaepernick.”

Trump's insults, however, weren't enough to compel Kaepernick to vote for Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton. Kaepernick told reporters on Tuesday that we would not be casting a ballot for president. "It was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates," Kaepernick said back in September, after the first presidential debate. "Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they're trying to debate who's less racist."

"And at this point ... you have to pick the lesser of two evils. But in the end, it's still evil."

While Kaepernick sat out the 2016 presidential election, many other athletes cast their votes -- and broadcast their support for their choice. That's something of a departure from past elections, but not necessarily a surprise. Athletes are more politically active today than they were a decade ago. Social media offers a stage to share their views and candidate preferences. LeBron James endorsed Hillary Clinton and introduced her at an Ohio rally last Sunday; Magic Johnson, Abby Wambach and Billie Jean King were among the athletes who endorsed Clinton. On election day, several athletes said they voted for Clinton, including:

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert:

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe:

and New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett:

https://twitter.com/MartysaurusRex/status/795948616632438785

While sports figures Jack Nicklaus, John Daly, UFC president Dana White and (reportedly) Bill Belichick supported Trump, athletes seemed less willing to voice their votes for Trump on election day. Former UFC star Tito Ortiz weighed in:

Whichever candidate sports stars supported, the 2016 presidential election will be remembered as a year athletes leaped back into the political arena.

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