Nike said it chose to halt the release of an America-themed sneaker, which featured a Betsy Ross flag, “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend” people.
In a statement sent to Fox News on Tuesday the sportswear giant's global corporate communications director, Sandra Carreon-John, 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.”
Ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick reportedly played a role in Nike’s decision to pull the sneakers after they'd been sent to retailers. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that Kaepernick said he felt the use of the Betsy Ross flag was offensive, with slavery connotations.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the paper's report stated, “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.”
Carreon-John did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request to clarify what role, if any, Kaepernick had played in the company's decision.
However, in the statement, Carreon-John said, “Nike is a company proud of its American heritage and our continuing engagement supporting thousands of American athletes, including the U.S. Olympic team and U.S. Soccer teams.”
“We already employ 35,000 people in the U.S. and remain committed to creating jobs in the U.S., including a significant investment in an additional manufacturing center which will create 500 new jobs.”
She added that the company, “regularly make business decisions to withdraw initiatives, products and services.”
The sneaker had been slated to be released on Monday, and posts hyping its release said it would cost $140.
Kaepernick, the former quarterback who famously and controversially took a knee for the National Anthem starting in 2016, was named the face of Nike’s latest “Just Do It” campaign last year. After the announcement, Nike’s stock initially fell more than 3 percent, before online sales increased.
Fox News’ Liam Quinn contributed to this report.