Nike Pulls Flag Sneaker After Colin Kaepernick Complaint

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Colin Kaepernick

The Nike endorser reportedly told the company the shoe's flag symbol is offensive because of its connection to slavery.

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 Gov. 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.

Nike issued a statement, saying: “We regularly make business decisions to withdraw initiatives, products and services. 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."

The statement continued: "Nike is a company proud of its American heritage and our continuing engagement supporting thousands of American athletes including the US Olympic team and US 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.” 

July 2, 2:10 p.m. Updated with statement from Nike.