Report: Nike pulls flag sneaker after Kaepernick complaint
New York– Nike is pulling a flag-themed tennis shoe after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained to the shoemaker, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The shoe’s heel has a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle on it, known as the Betsy Ross flag. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the Journal said that Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, told the company he and others found the flag symbol offensive because of its connection to slavery.
The Air Max 1 USA shoe had already been sent to retailers to go on sale this week for the July Fourth holiday, the Journal reports.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey lashed out at Nike’s decision to yank the sneaker, tweeting that he is asking the state’s Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentives for the company to locate there.
“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 wrote.
Prices for the Air Max 1 USA spiked to $2,500 a pair, roughly 20 times higher than the retail price on sneaker marketplace StockX, where buyers place bids and sellers set asking prices anonymously. The first of the sneakers found their way onto the resale site last week and 67transactions have been facilitated through StockX as of Tuesday morning.
Nike told stores to send back the sneakers that had already been shipped and yanked the listing from its app. The company had been asked by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others to remove the shoe style, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Last week in China, Nike halted the sale of sneakers designed in collaboration with a Japanese designer who voiced his support for the protests in Hong Kong. They’re also trading on StockX, with the lowest asking price for that shoe on StockX is just over $200, up from $160 at retail.
The rarest and most expensive shoes on StockX can go for tens of thousands of dollars. Last summer, a pair of coveted limited-edition Nikes sold for $24,000.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.