Just a week after Nike appeared to bow to Chinese authorities’ demands, halting the sale of a range of sports shoes in China after its Japanese designer showed support for Hong Kong protests in an Instagram post; the sportswear company has been implicitly banned from Arizona after nixing the launch of its “Betsy Ross Flag” sneakers after former football player Colin Kaepernick complained.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, the sneaker giant created the Air Max 1 USA in celebration of the July Fourth holiday, and it was slated to go on sale this week.
The heel of the shoe featured a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle, a design created during the American Revolution and commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross flag.
After shipping the shoes to retailers, Nike asked for them to be returned without explaining why, the people said. The shoes aren’t available on Nike’s own apps and websites.
“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.
After images of the shoe were posted online, Mr. Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, reached out to company officials saying that he and others felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery, the people said.
Some users on social media responded to posts about the shoe with similar concerns. Mr. Kaepernick declined to comment.
And it appears Nike’s virtue-signaling has already had serious consequences, as Arizona Governor Doug Ducey unleashed an angry tweet-storm, pulling financial support for the sports megalith.
Today was supposed to be a good day in Arizona, with the announcement of a major @Nike investment in Goodyear, AZ.
[Nike was expected to build a new multimillion-dollar plant in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear. The facility would employ more than 500 workers within five years of opening, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.]