Nike faces backlash on social media after pulling US flag shoe design days before the Fourth of July
- Nike pulled a flag-themed shoe design after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he and others find the specific flag offensive, because of its association with the time of slavery in America, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.
- The company slated the Air Max 1 USA to go on sale this week, in tandem with the Fourth of July.
- The internet was quick to react to the news, with some calling the move to pull the shoe "unpatriotic" and pledging to #BoycottNike.
Nike pulled an American flag-themed shoe design, after company endorser and former NFL player Colin Kaepernick said he and others find the specific flag design offensive, as it is associated with the time of slavery in America, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.
The company slated the Air Max 1 USA to go on sale this week, in tandem with the Fourth of July. The heel of the shoe featured a version of the United States flag with 13 white stars, which was created circa the 1770s during the American Revolution and is commonly referred to as the "Betsy Ross" flag.
After images of the shoe started appearing online, Kaepernick reportedly reached out to the company and said that people, himself included, considered the "Betsy Ross" flag an "offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery," according to The Journal.
The flag also sparked controversy back in 2016 after students waved it at a high school football game. Some parents and students left the game "unsettled," as the flag was seen by some as a symbol of white supremacy and white nationalism, according to Mlive.com, a local news outlet.
Nike asked for retailers to return the shoes after shipping them out without explaining why, WSJ reported, and the shoes aren't available on Nike's website.
"Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag," a Nike spokesperson wrote in an email to INSIDER.
Kaepernick declined to comment on the matter, WSJ reported.
The internet was quick to react to the news, with some calling the move to pull the sneaker "unpatriotic" and pledging to #BoycottNike.
This isn't the first time the company has found itself in hot water on social media.
Kaepernick sparked controversy when he sat on the bench instead of standing during the National Anthem in 2016 to protest of how the country "oppresses people of color," namely the issue of police killing unarmed black men. He later went on and consistently kneeled during the National Anthem after he consulted veterans about his decision.
Last year, Nike partnered with the Kaepernick to launch a campaign with the tagline, "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."
People responded to that campaign with videos of burning Nike shoes and cutting the Nike-trademark "swoosh" off of socks.