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Under Armour CEO responds to Trump criticism with open letter

Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Political News

BALTIMORE -- Under Armour founder Kevin Plank responded Wednesday to criticism sparked by his comments last week about President Donald Trump, addressing the company's hometown of Baltimore to stress personal and brand values such as diversity, equal rights and opportunity.

Plank penned an open letter to the city that appeared as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun.

"In a business television interview last week, I answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent," wrote Plank, company chairman and CEO. "I want to clarify for our hometown exactly the values for which Under Armour and I stand."

In the interview a week ago on CNBC, Plank praised the president's pro-business philosophy, saying Trump "wants to make bold decisions and be decisive" and that having "such a pro-business president is something that's a real asset to this country. People should grab that opportunity."

Plank sits with other business executives on a manufacturing advisory panel assembled by Trump that is working to develop innovative ways to support American manufacturing.

A social media backlash flared after Plank's comments were widely reported. Some consumers, many opposed to Trump's controversial executive order to suspend refugee admissions and temporarily bar travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries, vowed to boycott Under Armour sports apparel. Three of the brand's top athlete endorsers, including NBA star Stephen Curry, ballerina Misty Copeland and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tweeted opposition to Plank's comments, with Johnson calling his words "divisive."

Others rallied in support, tweeting their appreciation of support of pro-business policies and vowing to buy more Under Armour clothing.

Plank's comments in Wednesday's letter marked the first personal public response from the CEO. The company had issued two separate statements last week, the first stressing the company's desire for fair trade, tax reform and an inclusive immigration policy," and another on Friday saying the company opposes the administration's travel ban.

"I personally believe that immigration is the foundation of our country's exceptionalism," Plank said in the letter.

The letter made no mention of Trump as Plank instead wrote of his own values and those of the company.

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