Nike Ditches ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker After Kaepernick Complains Image Was 'Offensive'

Arizona governor: Nike 'bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism'

Colin Kaepernick while playing with the San Francisco 49ers / Getty Images
July 2, 2019

Athletic apparel company Nike canceled the release of its new Betsy Ross sneaker on Monday after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained that the image of the former American flag was "offensive."

Nike was set to release a new sneaker called the Air Max 1 USA that featured the image of the Betsy Ross flag, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Betsy Ross flag refers to the original U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle which was created during the American Revolution. Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, said the image was offensive because of its connection to a time period when slavery occurred.

"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 spokeswoman for Nike said.

Kaepernick is known for his kneeling on the football field during the National Anthem in order to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Nike made him the face of an advertisement last year after the controversy. Nike received backlash from their supporters during the time, with people burning their Nike shoes and cutting out the Nike "swoosh" logo from their clothes.

Arizona governor Doug Ducey (R.) weighed in on Nike's decision. The governor sent several tweets blasting the company for bowing to "political correctness."

"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," Ducey tweeted.

Ducey also ordered his administration to withhold any financial incentives for the company that was provided to have the company locate to the state. The Wall Street Journal reports the company is planning to invest $185 million dollars in the state.

Nike plans to invest $185 million to open a manufacturing facility in Goodyear, Ariz., that would employ about 500 people, according to city records. On Monday, the Goodyear City Council approved a package of incentives that would reimburse the company about $1 million in planning fees and about $4,000 per full-time employee Nike hires, according to city records.

"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," Ducey said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that versions of the sneaker were being sold on the reselling site StockX for as much as $500 on Monday before Nike's announcement. After it was announced that the sneaker was pulled from shelves, some pairs were selling for as much as $2,000.