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Volume 26 No. 60
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Nike Pulls Patriotic Sneaker After Kaepernick Raises Concerns

Kaepernick felt that the Betsy Ross flag is offensive because of its connection to an era of slavery
Photo: NIKE

Nike is "yanking a USA-themed sneaker featuring an early American flag" after Colin Kaepernick told the company it "shouldn’t sell a shoe with a symbol that he and others consider offensive," according to sources cited by Safdar & Beaton of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Nike 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." Sources said that after "shipping the shoes to retailers, Nike asked for them to be returned without explaining why." The sources added that after images of the shoe were posted online, Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, reached out to company officials and said that he and others "felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/2). CNBC’s Jim Cramer said the decision to pull the shoes is not about Ross but instead the "notion of slavery.” CNBC’s David Faber said Nike “knows their customer base, and they respond in some way to it.” Cramer: “The world’s changed, much more thoughtful” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 7/2). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson notes as "concern over white nationalism has become a spotlight issue in recent years, the Ross flag has for some risen as a symbol of controversy as it’s reportedly been adopted by some movements" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/2).

ARIZONA GOVERNOR LASHES OUT: USA TODAY's Tom Schad notes Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey "ripped Nike ... in a series of tweets" for the decision. He added that the state will "withhold incentive dollars that it had offered the company to open a manufacturing plant outside Phoenix." Ducey wrote, "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" (USATODAY.com, 7/2). In Phoenix, Laurie Roberts writes Nike "red, white and blew it" with the move. Roberts: "I marvel that the foundation of one of America's corporate giants is apparently the consistency of weak pudding. ... Nike has taken it's stand -- if you can call full-scale capitulation a stand" (AZCENTRAL.com, 7/2).