- Nike pulled a flag-themed shoe design after the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he and others found the specific flag offensive because of its association with the time of slavery in America, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
- The company had meant for the Air Max 1 USA to go on sale this week in tandem with the Fourth of July.
- The internet was quick to react to the news, with some calling the move to pull the shoe “unpatriotic” and pledging to boycott Nike.
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Nike pulled an American-flag-themed shoe design after the former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who endorses Nike, said he and others found the specific flag design offensive, associating it with the time of slavery in America, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
The company had meant for the Air Max 1 USA to go on sale this week in tandem with the Fourth of July. The heel of the shoe featured a version of the US flag with 13 white stars, which was created circa the 1770s during the American Revolution and is commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross flag.
Citing unnamed sources, The Journal said Kaepernick contacted the company after images of the shoe started appearing online and said that people, himself included, considered the Betsy Ross flag an “offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.”
As The Journal noted, the flag also sparked controversy back in 2016 after students waved it at a high-school football game in Michigan. Some parents and students left the game “unsettled,” as the flag was seen by some as a symbol of white supremacy and white nationalism, according to the local news outlet Mlive.com.
Nike asked for retailers to return the shoes after shipping them out without explaining why, The Journal reported, and the shoes aren’t available on Nike’s website.
“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag,” a Nike representative wrote in an email to INSIDER.
On Tuesday, Nike released a statement saying the company “made the decision to halt distribution of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.”
Kaepernick declined to comment on the matter, The Journal reported.
Ad: The Nike Air Max 1 "USA Flag" is now available at Finish Line!
— KicksFinder (@KicksFinder) June 28, 2019
The internet was quick to react to the news, with some calling the move to pull the sneaker “unpatriotic” and pledging to boycott Nike.
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— Julia Johnson (@juliaajohnson_) July 2, 2019
Are you kidding me, @Nike?
Three days before the Fourth of July? https://t.co/WyjEZjawkG
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) July 1, 2019
This politically correct nonsense has gone too far, as has the increasing tendency to take offense at everything and anything. The Betsy Ross flag is not a racist symbol; it’s our nation’s first flag. https://t.co/gIUksJlQPs
— Neil Saunders (@NeilRetail) July 1, 2019
I didn’t burn all my @Nike stuff last time but I’ll remedy that now. The swoosh is forever banned in this household. I guess Phil Knight is good with this, Shoe Dog will make for good kindling. @nikestore @nikegolf https://t.co/h0X4O3bkUg
— Edward Bertoniere (@epbertoniere) July 1, 2019
Nike partnered with Kaepernick last year for a campaign with the tagline “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Kaepernick started to become a polarising figure in 2016, first by sitting on the bench instead of standing during the national anthem before NFL games to protest police killings of unarmed black men. After consulting with veterans about his decision, he went on to kneel during the national anthem.
He has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season and ultimately settled with the NFL over accusations that the league colluded to keep him unsigned over his protests.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
Some people responded to Nike’s campaign featuring Kaepernick with videos of burning Nike shoes and cutting the Nike “swoosh” off of socks.
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
— John Rich (@johnrich) September 3, 2018
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