Sunday , Aug , 03 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

LeBron James Donates $20K to Barack Obama

LeBron James Donates $20K to Barack Obama
"Republicans buy sneakers, too."

The words of Michael Jordan when asked why he wouldn’t endorse progressive Democrat Harvey Gantt are, for me, one of the great stains on his escutcheon.  While a man has a right to keep his political views private, Mike was roundly criticised for the comment, and for good reason.  Gantt was running against Jesse Helms, a politician considered one of the last segregationists in the Senate who repeatedly voted against civil rights measures and once mounted a sixteen-day filibuster in an attempt to prevent Martin Luther King’s birthday from being recognised as a national holiday.  Even so, Jordan chose not to take a stance, instead countering with a statement perceived as cynical and driven by financial concern.

Likewise, LeBron James came under fire more recently for refusing to sign a petition sent to the Chinese government in protest of the situation in Darfur, the general consensus being that he did so in order not to alienate consumers in China.  Despite his former reticence to reveal his political opinions, however, LeBron has, like Michael Jordan, indicated his affiliation for the upcoming elections by donating to Barack Obama’s campaign.  Documents recently released reveal that M.J. contributed $2,100 (just below the maximum of $2,300 that persons listed as individuals can give), and LeBron chipped in a cool twenty thousand.

While the sum may be insignificant to someone of James’ wealth, many believe his support of a Democrat may lead to more significant financial losses as Republicans refuse to purchase his products.  Although I’d be inclined to say it’ll make no difference, I’ve been surprised by the importance of politics in marketing in the past.  So, what do you all think?  Would you avoid products endorsed by an open supporter of the other party?  Will Republicans still buy LeBron’s sneakers?  Do public figures have any obligation to disclose their political beliefs?  Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below or by emailing me at [email protected]