(CBS SF / CNN) — Nike is canceling a sneaker that featured the “Betsy Ross” version of the American flag from the late 18th century.

“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag,” Nike said in a statement to CNN Business.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the athletic-wear company delivered the sneakers to retailers, but asked stores to return them to Nike after the company received a complaint from former NFL star Colin Kaepernick. The Journal indicated Kaepernick said he and others found the shoe offensive because of its ties to America’s era of slavery.

Kaepernick, who last played in 2016 for the San Francisco 49ers, could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

The shoe was set to be released Monday for $140, according to Sneakernews.com. The website included photos of a shoe that featured a version of the American flag with 13 stars organized in a circle and 13 stripes. That version of the flag, according to the Smithsonian, was used in the United States from 1777 to 1795.

It is unclear if any of the shoes were sold.

“I take my hat off to Nike and what they did. And will support Nike in the best way I can and buy some stock,” said Rev. Jeff Moore, with the NAACP Silicon Valley Chapter.

Moore said the flag with its 13 stars oriented in a circle, is a painful reminder of slavery, and brushed any assertions that critics of the design were being too sensitive.

“It takes us back to the colonies. The colonization and the mistreatment of Native Americans. Colonization and the mistreatment of slaves. So the history behind what that represents of enslavement, and slave mentality, of keeping people under the boot. And so that represents oppression to a certain degree,” said Moore.

At the Fix Kicks, one of the largest sneaker stores in the Bay Area, customer DJ Reposar said he supports Kaepernick speaking out and Nike’s decision to pull the shoe, and feels much of the sneaker community would feel the same.

“It’s such a diverse and mixed group of humans that are in the community, and it’s just countless numbers of people that love everything about it. And the second they hear about it, they don’t want anything to do with it,” said Reposar.

This is the second instance of Nike removing a product in recent days. The company stopped selling some products in China after a fashion designer’s support for protests in Hong Kong sparked a social media backlash.

Nike said in a statement at the time that it had decided to remove some of its goods “based on feedback from Chinese consumers.”

In May, according to footwearnews.com, Nike canceled an Air Force 1 sneaker after an indigenous group in Panama objected to its design.

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Comments (44)
  1. The governor of Arizona has just pulled ALL incentives for Nike to build a factory in The Grand Canyon State.

    Way to go, you leftist i d i o t s !

  2. Grace Druggan says:

    This news story frustrates me,… I will not permit another Nike shoe or apparel in my home. Just an FYI. They were a good looking shoe. When sports people can make demands about what you sell, …. Crazy

  3. Barbara White says:

    Hey NIKE I love the shoes and if you are going to get rid of the PLEASE send me a box or two I know a lot of homeless people that would love to have them You people at Nike should not let just one person rule over you I respect you wanting to do the right thing but WHEN will all this stop you have to stand up for your brand and I will stand by you please send what ever you can to me LIKE YOUR BRAND it will make a lot of people happy I love my NIKIE

    1. Deb Lewellen says:

      This company is an utter joke, they let some idiot football player dictate what they do, they will throw them all in the landfills. This company cares more about the Kmoron than donating to charity.

  4. Edwin Peddicord says:

    NIKE….. Kaepernick IS a Racist has been!!!!!!

  5. Ivy Liu says:

    This is so absolutely idiotic. “Betsy Ross flag” refers to a period of unprecedented patriotism for our country where men and women fought against many odds to win this country’s ultimate freedom. Yes slavery existed back then and it is unfortunate. But it is a small, albeit dark part of our American history from which we can hope to learn and never repeat. Erasing history and being hypersensitive with the thinking that the world revolved around you is wrong and juvenile.

    1. Rachel Satterfield says:

      do you mean unprecedented time of chattel slavery and the genocide of native Americans?? ultimate freedom? FOR WHO? a small part of history? We’re talking most of US history has been dominated by effects of chattel slavery. Civil Rights wasn’t won until 1964!!!! That’s not that long ago.

  6. Dawn Iliff says:

    Nike, get some back bone.. You are CAVING over one person’s view… Good for A Z governors blocking of you moving to state… You’re slitting your own throat, for someone who is whining about something that CAN’T BE changed but evidently we will pay for FOREVER…I not my family had ANYTHING to do with slavery… Do you CAVE because ONE PERSON GOT A WILD HAIR UP HIS ASS AND HAS NOTHING BETTER TO DO BUT WHINE ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BETSY ROSS……..YOU NEED US MORE THEN WE NEED YOU…THINK ABOUT IT.. YOU MORONS, GROW A PAIR

  7. Shelia Hanson Sellers says:

    To heck with spineless Nike and Colin Kaepernick! The Betsy Ross flag was created to represent our great country during the time of the original 13 colonies. It is NOT a symbol of racism nor white supremacy! I am SICK of the erasing and/or rewriting of my country’s history. It’s shameful that this is happening and more shameful still that it is being allowed.

    1. Rachel Satterfield says:

      but it IS a symbol of racism and white supremacy. The USA was built on chattel slavery, the kidnapping, torture and murder of African people and native Americans. Not recognizing that, is in fact, the real erasure/rewriting of history.

  8. James W Keller Jr. says:

    Nike you are a bunch of cowards bowing down to a racist colin Kaepernick I am boycott all of your products and I hope you go completely under never to recover that Nike becomes extinct and all true American burn every Nike product that they have you have cut your own throat by being a coward and bowing down to one of the biggest racists.

  9. Linda Miller Landen says:


  10. Donnie Barnett says:

    Well that’s the end of the swoosh for me but I will give my collection to the homeless

  11. Bill Benton says:

    Forget Nike. Pledge to yourself to never buy any of their products again.
    NOW would be a great time for an American company to produce a patriotic shoe with the Betsy Ross flag. .

  12. William Vinson says:

    I strenuously object to any shoe with the color red displayed anywhere on the shoe as this color has been appropriated by both communists and fascists as symbolic of Communism hate, murder, suppression of free speech, etc. In short, red was appropriated by Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Nazi Germany, etc as symbolic for everything the oppressed everywhere stand in opposition to. Ban Red!!

  13. Michelle McNally Brandt says:

    That was our first American flag Kaepernick is anti American

  14. Debby Adams says:

    Nike you make me sick, why you let some washed up football star tell you what you should do is seriously disturbing. Don’t you have your own voice. That is our nation’s first flag. I will never buy another Nike product. It is so sad that you cowtow to these celebrates.

  15. Theresa Ecker says:

    Kaepernick if you don’t like it then move out of the country and don’t let the door hit you in the ass!!! This is a free country and for Nike to listen to this washed up Nfl football player is so sad. Let’s get a backbone Nike and put the shoes back out there and stand up for freedom of speech. Kaepernick since no one wants to sign your sorry ass to play football I think it’s time you either move or start looking for a job!!!

  16. Bryon Stephens says:

    sorry nike but you lost a customer of me and my entire family, Betsy Ross design is not racist. never had been. hope another company will do the design, I wanted a pair. But you will never get any of my money.

  17. Sharon Jepson says:

    Every woman’s group in this country should be angry at what Kapernick and Nike has done to the Betsy Ross flag on their shoes. She was the first woman who contributed to our troops and gave her time in the making of American flags. She was an upholsterer who represented our country in making flags for the government for over 50 years. The first woman who gave back to our country and every woman’s group int his country should be angry at Kapernick and Nike for not recognizing her historical contribution to our country on their shoes. As a woman I am angry over what Nike has done to demonize a woman who gave contributions to making our country great and the freedom we now have. Nike and Kapernick have demonized this great woman’s contributions to this country. Every woman in this USA should be angry at Kapernick for degrading women by not recognizing this woman and her historical significance to this country and shame on Nike for taking the side of Kapernick on this issue.

  18. Davelaurie Alexander says:

    How stupid of a decision can a large company make, due to the incorrect facts of someone I have never heard of! Apparently he isn’t as big of a name as he thinks he is!

  19. Judy Hollyfield says:

    Do you have any idea who Betsy Ross was? You all are about as smart as Kaepernick is! You bunch of idiots!!!

  20. Rachel Satterfield says:

    These comments disgust me with their great ignorance of this country. Perhaps they just don’t know? The United States of America was built on chattel slavery and the genocide of Native America people. It’s also not a secret but folks like these on the comments with their fragility “my family never owned slaves” and ignorance “it’s not a symbol of racism” actually erasure the truth of the torture African and American Natives endured under that very flag of the thirteen colonies. Can you stand by a flag that symbolizes the torture and kidnapping of human beings or maybe you believe, as the founding “fathers” did so much so that enslaved African people were constitutionally designated as 60% of a person (until the 13th Amendment and then 100 years later with the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to end Jim Crow laws that contravened the 13th Amendment and kept African Americans and Native Americans from voting and owning land). As usual, Colin Kapernick is on point. Shame on all of you for clearly not knowing the history of your country.

  21. Carl Brooks says:

    Banning these flag shoes in my opinion is a hate crime against America. Haters gotta hate.