Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) joined the burgeoning backlash against Nike on Tuesday over the shoemaker’s decision to pull their America-themed 4th of July sneakers.
Lipinski, one of the lone pro-life Democrats left in the U.S. House of Representatives, shared a photo of himself on social media wearing one of Nike’s biggest competitors, New Balance.
“I’m sitting here working,” Lipinski tweeted. Notice I’m not wearing Nikes, nor will I anytime soon.”
I'm sitting here working. Notice I'm not wearing Nikes, nor will I anytime soon. pic.twitter.com/MFZBau1DQV
— Dan Lipinski (@DanLipinski) July 2, 2019
Lipinksi’s tweet came shortly after Nike announced it was yanking from distribution the Air Mac 1 USA, a sneaker specifically designed to commemorate American independence ahead of the July 4th holiday.
Even though the shoes had already been produced and shipped to stores, Nike opted to pull them prior to sale after Colin Kaepernick, the company’s spokesman, interceded. Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback best known for kneeling in protest against the national anthem, vetoed the sneakers because he took umbrage with the symbol emblazoned on the heel — a U.S. flag featuring 13 white stars.
The flag, created in the mid-to-late-1770’s by Betsy Ross at the behest of George Washington, was an early design of what would become the official flag of the United States. Kaepernick, however, did not appear to appreciate the flag’s historical importance, telling Nike he felt it was offensive due to its connection “to slavery.”
“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,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
The recall quickly became controversial, especially as many noted that Nike had willingly produced sneakers emblazoned with the flags of countries infamous for abusing human rights, including China and Turkey. Some elected officials even signaled there should be repercussions for Nike’s action.
On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) launched a boycott against the sneaker giant, promising he would no “longer purchase Nike products.”
I love America. I stand for the anthem, respect the flag & honor the men & women who fought to defend our Nation. I respect Free Speech & I’m exerting mine: until @Nike ends its contempt for those values, I WILL NO LONGER PURCHASE NIKE PRODUCTS. #WalkAwayFromNike RT if you agree. https://t.co/IvXNTgvlHq
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 2, 2019
Others, like Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), took a more rigid approach. Ducey decided to cancel all taxpayer funded financial incentives Arizona was planning on giving Nike in order for them to build a manufacturing plant in the state.
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. 7/
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) July 2, 2019
Nike responded to the mounting criticism on Wednesday by standing defiant. In an email statement the company said its concerns that the shoes “could unintentionally offend and detract” from July 4th were legitimate.
“We regularly make business decisions to withdraw initiatives, products and services,” the company said. “Nike 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.”