Nike has nixed its plans to release a sneaker with the original American flag, often referred to as the Betsy Ross flag, on the heel after objections from Colin Kaepernick, per a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The shoe, the Nike Air Max Quick Strike ‘Fourth of July,’ featured the original flag, first used in 1792, on the heel. The flag’s design features a circle of 13 stars in the left hand corner to represent the original 13 colonies. Kaepernick, who signed a major endorsement deal with Nike in September of 2018, reportedly objected to the design, as he felt the flag symbolized a time when slavery was still legal in the United States and could be seen as offensive, per the WSJ.
Nike has recalled the Air Max ‘Fourth of July’ from all retailers. “Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured the old version of the American flag,” a Nike spokeswoman said.
Unsurprisingly, the sneaker being pulled has led to backlash from the other side — as happens most anytime Kaepernick’s name is involved in something. The most notable complaint towards the shoe being pulled came from Arizona governor Doug Ducey, who is overseeing the opening of a multi-million dollar Nike manufacturing plant in Goodyear that is purported to create 500-plus jobs. In a statement, he said the removal of the sneaker “denigrates our nation’s history” and wants to pull incentive dollars allocated to Nike for opening the plant.
Today was supposed to be a good day in Arizona, with the announcement of a major Nike investment in Goodyear, AZ. And then this news broke yesterday afternoon. Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision. I am embarrassed for Nike.
Nike has made its decision, and now we’re making ours. I’ve ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion that the State was providing for the company to locate here.
Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.
Nike will likely move it’s manufacturing plant elsewhere and will deal with the backlash as it comes and goes — as has happened before and will surely happen again. If there’s any lesson in this for the company, it’s to do a more thorough vetting on a design such as this prior to manufacturing to keep it from being a public decision and having to recall a sneaker just before it goes to market.