Movie star and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson released a long and thoughtful statement addressing the comments of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. Following a meeting of President Donald Trump's American Manufacturing Panel, Plank said of Trump, "To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity." Plank did not indicate by which body part people can grab opportunity, but we think we can figure that out.
"He wants to build things," Plank continued to gush as actual cartoon heats appeared to float playfully around his head. "He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive. I'm a big fan of people that operate in the world of 'publish and iterate' versus 'think, think, think, think, think. So there's a lot that I respect there."
The CEO's praise for the controversial president have set off a wave of backlash, with sports teams and athletes speaking out about them. Even Under Armour itself released a statement the next day distancing itself from its own CEO's comments. "Kevin Plank was recently invited at the request of the President of the United States, to join the American Manufacturing Council as part of a distinguished group of business leaders," Under Armour's statement read, before throwing several other companies under the bus as fellow collaborators. "He joined CEOs from companies such as Dow Chemical, Dell, Ford, GE and Tesla, among others to begin an important dialogue around creating jobs in America." The company cited a record of working with previous administrations on American business interests, and indicated a desire to be involved in conversations about American jobs.
However, when it comes to the Trump administration's policies, Under Armour expressed wanted to clarify their position, particularly when it comes to Trump's immigration ban. "We engage in policy, not politics," the statement said. "We believe in advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country, and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore." Under Armour also touted "teammates from different religions, races, nationalities, genders, and sexual orientations."
NBA star Steph Curry has spoken about Plank's comments, saying of his praise of trump as an asset, "I agree with that description, if you remove the 'et,'" and expressing concern that Under Armour not adopt Trump's "values." German soccer team FC St. Pauli, sponsored by Under Armour, agreed with Curry that Trump is an ass. But perhaps the biggest name to speak out about Plank's statement is movie star, pro wrestler, and People Magazine's sexiest man of the year, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Johnson, who has been known to publicly speak about a desire to polish inanimate objects and insert them in opponent's anuses, and who has been known to speak at length in sexual metaphors about various forms of pastries, was so concerned by Plank's support of Trump that he released the following statement:
"I appreciate and welcome the feedback from people who disagree (and agree) with Kevin Plank's words on CNBC, but these are neither my words, nor my beliefs," said The Rock, who declined to comment on whether or not Plank or Trump were jabronies or roodie-poo candy-asses. "His words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of UA's partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO."
"A good company is not solely defined by its CEO," Rocky explained as the millions… and millions of The Rock's fans chanted his name. "A good company is not defined by the athlete or celebrity who partners with them. 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."
The Rock explained that he takes his partnerships very seriously. "We don't partner with a brand casually. 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. But it doesn't mean that I or my team will always agree with the opinion of everyone who works there, including its executives. Great leaders inspire and galvanize the masses during turbulent times, they don't cause people to divide and disband."
Ultimately, The Rock decided to stand with Under Armour while disagreeing with the CEO's comments. "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. A diverse group of hardworking men and women who possess integrity, respect and compassion for one another and the world they live in. Debate is healthy. But in a time of widespread disagreement, so is loyalty. 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. My commitment is as real as my sweat and callouses that thicken daily."
It's a difficult situation for anyone, for sure, mirroring the one happening in the comic book community, as Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter has not only been a supporter of Trump during the campaign, but now serves as his official advisor and has been spotted flying with the president on Air Force Once. Though many Marvel Comics staff are vocally outspoken against Trump, few have commented on their boss's direct involvement with his administration, and none of them recently. Likewise, many Marvel readers are no fans of the president, but continue to purchase its products. In a similar situation, many actors participated in making Lego Batman, in theaters this weekend, and many moviegoers will pay to see it, even though it was financed in part by Donald Trump's Secretary of the Treasury, Stephen Mnuchin.
As American business leaders continue to work with the Trump administration just as the administration continues to pursue controversial policies, it's sure to continue to weigh on the conscience of employees, partners, and consumers. We can offer little advice, other than that everyone should do what feels right to them, carefully weighing the circumstances and asking that age-old question: do you smell what Donald Trump is cooking? And if you do, and you don't like it, to what lengths are you willing to go to avoid its stench?