Nike created the special Nike Air Max 1 USA shoe to be sold in stores during the week of the American Fourth of July holiday.
After shipping the shoes to retailers, Nike asked stores to ship all of the patriotic Nike Air Max 1 USA shoes back to Nike. At first, Nike did not explain why the shoes were called back. A Nike spokesperson later addressed the situation with the following statement: “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.”
The Nike Air Max 1 USA featured a Betsy Ross flag on the heel of the shoe. The Betsy Ross flag is the original flag of the United States. The flag featured thirteen stars, which represent the thirteen original colonies.
Allegedly, Colin Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, reached out to Nike after he saw pictures of the Nike Air Max 1 USA shoes on Nike’s website. Kaepernick told Nike executives that he thought the Betsy Ross flag is an “offensive symbol” to African-Americans because the Betsy Ross flag has a “connection to an era of slavery” in the United States.
Kaepernick has declined to comment further about his influence on Nike’s decision to recall the special Fourth of July edition shoes.
Kaepernick’s involvement with Nike has been controversial since the start. Nike first featured Kaepernick in an ad campaign in late 2018. The controversial ad features a close up of Kaepernick’s face, with the quote ”Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Many Americans were upset over Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick due to Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem when he played in the NFL.
Many responded to the ad by boycotting Nike and burning their Nike shoes in protest.