Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Tuesday the state will withdraw tax incentives for Nike to open a plant after the company pulled USA-themed shoes reportedly following complaints from Colin Kaepernick.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Nike withdrew the shoes after Kaepernick, a progressive activist and former NFL quarterback, complained to the company that they were offensive.
The Air Max 1 USA shoe was designed to celebrate the Fourth of July and features an American Revolution-era Betsy Ross flag.
“After images of the shoe were posted online, Mr. Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, reached out to company officials saying that he and others felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery,” the Journal reported.
“Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision. I am embarrassed for Nike,” Ducey, a Republican, said in a thread of tweets early Tuesday morning.
Nike made Kaepernick the face of a campaign last fall in a controversial move that led to boycotts of the company. Kaepernick, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, created controversy after kneeling during the national anthem as a player with the San Francisco 49ers protesting police brutality.
“Nike is an iconic American brand and American company. This country, our system of government and free enterprise have allowed them to prosper and flourish,” Ducey said. “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.”
Ducey also called Nike’s move “shameful” and said the Arizona Commerce Authority would be pulling planned incentives for the company to build a plant in Goodyear, Ariz.
“It is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it,” he said. “Nike has made its decision, and now we’re making ours. I’ve ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion that the State was providing for the company to locate here.”
“Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike,” he said. “We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.”
Nike has plans to build a $185 million factory in the state, the Journal reported Tuesday, and the company would be reimbursed $1 million in fees and $4,000 for each full-time hire under an incentive package approved by the Goodyear City Council on Monday.
The shoes were reportedly already sent to retailers, then Nike requested they be sent back to the company with no explanation.
“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 Journal.