Report: Nike Ditches ‘Betsy Ross Flag’ Sneaker After Colin Kaepernick Raises Concerns over the Flag’s Connection to Slavery

Colin Kaepernick
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Nike has decided to pull their America-themed 4th of July sneakers which featured the “Betsy Ross” flag, after former NFL anthem-protester and Nike pitchman Colin Kaepernick raised concerns over the offensive symbolism he felt the flag displayed, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the WSJ:

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.

The flag was originally designed by Ross in the mid-to-late-1770’s after a visit and request from George Washington to come up with a design for the nation’s new flag.

In response, a Nike spokeswoman told the Journal, “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.”

Kaepernick began his anthem protest in the preseason of 2016. However, after that season, the former 49er walked away from his contract with San Francisco. Kaepernick was not re-signed by another club and remains unemployed by the league. In October of 2017, Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL alleging that the league’s owners conspired to keep him off a roster due to his anthem protests.

In 2018, Nike made Kaepernick the face of their “Just Do It” ad campaign.

According to the WSJ, “The campaign generated a backlash among some consumers, who began torching Nike shoes and cutting its swoosh logo out of gear. The protests were countered by expressions of support for Nike.

“Since the ad was released, Nike has posted higher sales, boosted by strong demand in both the U.S. and China. In the fourth quarter, sales rose 4% to $10.18 billion. Its share price has climbed more than 15% so far this year.”

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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