Nike, Under Armour endorse ‘ugly side’ of cryptocurrency in mass endorsements ahead of critical midterms

They might be America’s most popular athletes. But they’re about to become the nation’s most unpopular politicians.

Popular sportswear companies Nike and Under Armour are marking the run-up to the midterm elections with endorsements of three U.S. Senate candidates — Republican Rick Scott, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and independent Jamil Mahoney. All three are stressing economic concerns over traditional issues and are calling for the repeal of the 21st century’s most unique income tax deduction: the so-called “Crown” deduction for cryptocurrency investments.

Speaking to associates of the three candidates, analysts interviewed by the Miami Herald found mixed views.

Cortez Masto, who is the former U.S. attorney in Nevada, won first spot on the ballot in the race to replace the retiring Senate majority leader, a Democrat, and finance a billionaire, her former boss, Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

“I am betting on Nevada, I will bring a fresh perspective,” she told an acquaintance while out on the campaign trail in Las Vegas.

Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, has highlighted the bonuses in his state because of last year’s economic bounceback and says he supports a legislative effort to replace the federal deduction of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which amount to 42 percent of the income tax, with a simpler, lower break of 25 percent. A proposal in the Legislature would create a new refundable credit – $4,000 for couples and $2,500 for individuals – for cryptocurrency investors.

Mahoney, the 43-year-old independent, is running for retiring Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s seat. But he has also made mention of cryptocurrency, saying he wishes the Trump administration was “happy to tax bitcoin, and it could support our way of life,” the Miami Herald reported.

In a campaign ad, Marlon Stapleton, Mahoney’s campaign chairman, said he regretted not making more of the “ugly side” of cryptocurrencies to ease national concerns.

“As an entrepreneur, it pains me that companies are investing millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies, but my son doesn’t realize his assets are locked up,” he said.

The three candidates are poised to win their respective races, which polls show are tight. But like the student loan, gun control and Medicare programs mentioned in their endorsement ads, it remains to be seen how much the endorsement ads and general endorsement rhetoric will help them.

All three candidates are banking on the strength of the broad American market for social media and cryptocurrency investment, by far the fastest-growing asset class by volume in U.S. markets.

Nike released an endorsement ad featuring Prince singing “The Beautiful Ones,” following a post-election interview with Cortez Masto in which she described her experience with her husband’s company Ecobee.

“That’s how we have lived our lives — a little bit different. Ecobee really lets people go through life a little more relaxed,” she said.

Under Armour was forthright that their endorsement was of their confidence in the candidates.

“While we believe these tax relief proposals are ultimately bad for working families in Nevada, the path forward is up to the people of Nevada,” the company said.

Those who support cryptocurrency seem to be falling in line.

Adam Smith, one of Mahoney’s top surrogates, an adviser to Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and a former director of technology for the Obama White House, told the Herald in an email that “this is a national discussion, not just for Nevada.”

In the battleground state of Georgia, SmartBank, a cryptocurrency bank, announced its support for Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has put her personal wealth on the line.

A spokesman for Abrams’ campaign said that the move represents “a game-changer” and could prompt a similar wave of bank support and endorsements in more races.

“We’re going to hold the incumbents accountable,” said SmartBank executive Adam Stillman. “We’re going to expose them for the corrupt capitalist machine they are.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

Matt Crossick is a writer for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter: @crossick_matt

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