Nike Pulls ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker After Colin Kaepernick Intervenes

July 02, 2019 - 12:22 pm
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By Sean Hartnett

Nike has pulled sneakers featuring the 13-star Betsy Ross flag after former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick urged the apparel giant not to sell the sneaker. Kaepernick has an endorsement contract with Nike. 

Originally created to depict the 13 colonies, the flag is now being used as a symbol of hate by white supremacist groups. Kaepernick reportedly contacted Nike to explain why he and others find the symbol offensive.

Nike has issued a recall to retailers. The shoe was planned for a Monday release ahead of the Fourth of July with a $120 price tag.

"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 told The Wall Street Journal.

Arizona Senator Martín Quezada praised Nike's decision.

"I applaud Nike and Kaepernick for challenging us to think more critically about these issues and the evolved forms of racism that are as alive today as they ever were. I'm here to work with you on these issues," Quezada tweeted.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz reacted to the news of the shoe’s canceled release.

“It’s a good thing Nike only wants to sell sneakers to people who hate the American flag. Happy fourth,” Cruz tweeted.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey responded to Nike’s decision by withdrawing financial incentives designed to encourage the company to build a new manufacturing plant in the state. Nike has planned a manufacturing plant in Goodyear, AZ with an initial investment of $184.5 million.

"Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision. I am embarrassed for Nike," Ducey tweeted. "Nike is an iconic American brand and American company. This country, our system of government and free enterprise have allowed them to prosper and flourish.

"Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s independence, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism. It is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.

"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.

"And finally, it shouldn’t take a controversy over a shoe for our kids to know who Betsy Ross is. A founding mother. Her story should be taught in all American schools. In the meantime, it’s worth googling her."

Activist and filmmaker Adam Best explained how the flag has turned into a symbol of the white supremacist movement.

"The Betsy Ross flag has been turned into a symbol of white nationalism and domestic extremism. Conservatives will whine, but Colin Kaepernick was right to speak out and Nike was right to pull the products," he tweeted.

Despite Nike’s issued recall, the shoe has appeared on resale websites. Sneaker marketplace StockX is carrying the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July and some bidders have paid as much as $2,500 for a pair. Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July originally appeared on StockX last week.

Kaepernick became the face of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign in September 2018. The ACLU honored Kaepernick with the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award in November 2018. He received the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award from Sports Illustrated in 2017.