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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Is Seeping Into Sports

  • The longtime anti-vaccine activist and presidential candidate is getting attention by aligning his name with those of like-minded athletes.
  • Kennedy says he’s considering Aaron Rodgers as a presidential running mate.
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate known for his historic lineage and longtime advocacy of conspiracy theories about public health, is slowly seeping into the sports world this month, positioning himself alongside like-minded athletes. Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, and former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura have all been tied to Kennedy in this week’s headlines.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Rodgers and Ventura, who served a term as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003, are Kennedy’s top choices for a running mate. Rodgers, who’s been in trouble recently for promoting conspiracy theories related to the dead sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, has in recent years touted ivermectin, a snake-oil faux cure for COVID-19, and fake homeopathic “vaccines.” Kennedy said he and Rodgers have spoken “pretty continuously” over the last month. Other potential candidates are also being considered, but Rodgers and Ventura have both seemed receptive to the idea, the Times reported.

Shifting focus from Washington, D.C., to Washington state, Stockton was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last week alongside Kennedy’s anti-vaccine nonprofit, Children’s Health Defense, with Kennedy listed as one of the attorneys. (He says he’s been on leave from the organization since last April.) The plaintiffs are suing the state’s attorney general and the executive director of its medical commission, claiming that they’ve violated the First Amendment rights of “approximately 60” licensed physicians who have spoken out against “the mainstream Covid narrative,” per the suit. The legal theory that regulators and prosecutors violate free-speech rights by taking note of doctors who advocate or utilize dangerous treatments is a previously fringe position that has become increasingly popular in the so-called medical freedom movement.

Rodgers and Stockton have both gained notoriety for criticizing COVID-19 vaccines and other preventative measures. Rodgers was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and recently called Travis Kelce “Mr. Pfizer” for the Chiefs player’s national ad campaign with the company. Gonzaga, Stockton’s alma mater, suspended his season tickets in January 2022 because he refused to wear a mask at games. Kennedy and CHD opposed and expressed doubt about COVID-19 vaccines throughout the pandemic.

Rodgers is expected to start for the Jets next season, which would make for a challenging schedule if he’s also expected on the campaign trail. Kennedy will need to name his running mate in the coming weeks to comply with states that require one to get on the ballot, per the Times.

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