Colin Kaepernick’s decision to not stand for the national anthem may have sparked a controversy, but it’s also helping the 49ers quarterback sell jerseys.
Kaepernick’s #7 jersey has been the seventh best seller in the NFL during the past week at DICK’s Sporting Goods—up from the league’s 33rd best seller on draft day in April, the Associated Press reported. That places his jersey’s popularity in third among all quarterbacks, trailing only behind Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton and New England Patriots QB Tom Brady—who both appeared in last year’s Super Bowl.
The NFL Shop also shows strong sales for Kaepernick jerseys, with his red jersey as the top seller on the website as of Tuesday morning. He’s trailed by Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The 49ers backup quarterback refused to stand for the anthem during the team’s preseason games, citing his behavior as a protest against racial injustice and police violence. He said he plans to continue sitting out “The Star-Spangled Banner” through the regular season. His decision to protest has been criticized as unpatriotic, and some fans initially showed their disapproval for his actions by burning their Kaepernick jerseys.
Before his protest grabbed headlines, Kaepernick’s jerseys were hardly selling on the NFL Shop, NBC Sports reported. That makes sense considering his status as a backup quarterback coming off a subpar season. Now, it seems fans are showing their solidarity with Kaepernick by sporting his number on their backs.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Kaepernick’s jerseys have seen a sales spike. In the 2012-2013 season, Kaepernick was a second-year backup quarterback with little notoriety when he took over for injured starter Alex Smith. The 49ers wound up making it to the Super Bowl that year, and Kaepernick’s underdog back story and outstanding athletic style helped make his jersey one of the top sellers on NFL.com during the 49ers’ playoff run.