News that Nike pulled a sneaker that was intended to show patriotism ahead of the Fourth of July incensed people on Twitter Tuesday.
Nike asked retailers to return the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July shoes without explanation, apparently after NFL quarterback-turned activist Colin Kaepernick told the company it shouldn’t sell the shoe, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The shoes featured the American Revolution-era flag with a circle of 13 white stars over the blue background, commonly called the Betsy Ross flag. Kaepernick told Nike that he felt the flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to a time when slavery was legal in America, according to the report.
Republican politicians were quick to jump on the issue on Twitter. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey went so far as to say that he ordered state officials to withdraw financial incentive money the state was providing to entice Nike to move there.
Sen. Ted Cruz said he would stop buying Nike products.
Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri criticized Nike for its history of sweatshop labor. The company was criticized for the practice during the 1990s and faced accusations about labor conditions at its factories as recently as 2017.
Of course, it’s just not Twitter if everyone agrees. Actor George Takei raised an issue about Ducey’s prioritization of the Nike funding over other "problems."
Others, like activist and author Shannon Watts, raised issues about the way the Betsy Ross flag has been used more recently. Some white nationalists and other groups opposed to racial diversity have used the flag, the Washington Post reported.
While Ducey said he was pulling incentive money from Nike, some Democrat politicians like New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appeared ready to make a deal with Nike.
Even Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate, said he would “take the Nike plant in Vermont.”
Then again, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for President Trump’s reelection bid, questioned why a company as large as Nike was receiving subsidies anyway. He applauded Ducey’s decision to pull incentive money.