Despite saying he received multiple death threats, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills says he doesn’t regret criticizing his team’s owner, Stephen M. Ross, for hosting a fundraiser for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
Stills suggested in a tweet earlier this week that the event was contradictory to the mission of Ross’s nonprofit, RISE, which Stills has been involved with. The organization aims to eliminate racial discrimination and champion social justice.
“You can’t have a non profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” Stills wrote on Wednesday.
Responding to questions from reporters on Thursday after his team’s victory in a preseason game, Stills said, according to ESPN: “Someone has to have enough courage to let him know he can’t play both sides of this.”
“It’s something that I can look back on and say I made the right decision,” he continued. “Maybe I shouldn’t have done it on social media, but I did. If you’re going to associate yourself with bad people, then people are going to know about it. I put it out there for everybody to see it.”
Stills, 27, was among a group of NFL players who continued to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice after Colin Kaepernick’s last season in the NFL. Trump has strongly criticized protesting NFL players on numerous occasions — in 2017 he referred to them as “sons of bitches” at an Alabama rally.
On Thursday, Stills told reporters that he doesn’t have “any hard feelings” toward Ross, but posted the tweet to show that the mission of Ross’s nonprofit doesn’t “align” with Trump’s racist rhetoric.
The player’s own Kenny Stills Foundation, which aims to empower underserved communities, hosted a summit in Florida earlier this summer to help families with mental wellness.
Ross has come under fire since news of his Hamptons fundraiser for Trump broke. The event, scheduled for Friday, costs $100,000 per ticket for a photo opportunity and lunch, or $250,000 for a package that includes a private roundtable discussion with the president, according to The Washington Post.
Customers of fitness brands Equinox and Soulcycle, which are owned by Ross’s real estate firm, Related Companies, have since called for boycotts on social media.
“Just contacted @Equinox to cancel my membership after many years,” actor-comedian Billy Eichner tweeted on Wednesday. “Money talks, especially with these monsters.”
Despite the backlash, the billionaire developer has stood by his decision to host the fundraiser, telling Bloomberg News on Wednesday: “I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”
Ross added in a statement that he is an “outspoken champion of racial equality,” the publication reported.