OREGON – The State of Arizona has pulled the plug on a US$1m grant it planned to offer Nike to build a new factory after the State’s Governor claimed Nike had bowed to political correctness by withdrawing a trainer allegedly featuring racist symbolism. Nike received numerous complaints about its use of an old US flag – which has been subsequently embraced by white nationalists – on the special edition Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July. Nike-sponsored sportsman Colin Kaepernick was one of the more vocal critics of the trainers, now selling on websites for US$1,500.
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“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.
Doug Ducey, Republican governor of Arizona, said: “Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision. I am embarrassed for Nike. Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s independence, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.”
Ted Cruz, the Republican senator, said Nike “only wants to sell sneakers to people who hate the American flag.”
The governor’s office has confirmed the US$1m grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority’ Competes Fund had been withdrawn. The fund is designed to attract, expand or retain businesses to the state.
The special edition Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July trainer features the Betsy Ross flag. With a circle of 13 stars representing the first US colonies, the flag was created during the American Revolution. The flag was later adopted for use by the American Nazi party.
Nike said it withdrew the trainers “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.”