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Republicans are warring with Nike after the $100-billion sneaker juggernaut decided to pull its newest Air Maxes emblazoned with a version of the American flag that flew during slavery — and just in time for the Fourth of July.
Nike reportedly quit production of the shoe after Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback known for kneeling during games to protest racial injustice, filed a complaint, according to the Wall Street Journal. The flag, known as the “Betsy Ross” version, has been co-opted by some racist groups.
Now, Arizona’s Republican Governor, Doug Ducey, said he’s pulling a $1 million financial incentive for a planned Nike factory in his state. “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,” he tweeted Tuesday.
But the shoe company might still go through with its plans to build a factory there, according to CNBC. The mayor of the town where the factory is headed, Goodyear, said she’d still honor her side of the incentive agreement which involves $1 million in reimbursements and waiving an additional $1 million in review and permit fees.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, also said he’d take the factory if Arizona didn’t want it.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also expressed dismay with Nike offered to buy a pair of the Air Maxes himself if they come back into production.
On the other hand, Sen. Ted Cruz said that he won’t buy from Nike “since they don't want my business anymore” and asked for less-woke brand recommendations. Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host, also announced she was breaking up with Nike.
Apart from the fact that the flag was designed in an era where Americans still held slaves, it’s been flown by members of white nationalist groups like Identity Evropa and Patriot Prayer, the right-wing militia.
Kaepernick — who has not commented on the flag publicly — also isn’t the first person to express concern. Filmmaker Spike Lee called the Betsy Ross-era flag an example of America’s entrenched racism in an interview with Politico earlier this year.
“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 told the WSJ.
Cover image: (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Pawel Dwulit)