Doug Ducey announced Tuesday he's withdrawing all financial incentive dollars to have Nike open a manufacturing plant in the state after a report said the sneaker company pulled its "Betsy Ross Flag" shoes following Colin Kaepernick's criticism.
Nike had planned on releasing a special patriotic version of its Air Max 1 shoe, which featured the famed "Betsy Ross" version of the US flag.
Nike was earlier slammed for a controversial ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, who, as a star quarterback in 2016, protested racial discrimination by kneeling during the national anthem prior to professional U.S. football games.
After shipping the shoes to retailers, Nike asked for them to be returned without providing a reason, sources told WSJ.
After Nike pulled their Betsy Ross Flag Air Max 1 US sneakers, demand for the shoes skyrocketed.
Kaepernick is a former quarterback who played for the San Francisco 49ers until the end of the 2016 season. Nike made him the face of an advertisement past year after the controversy.
Ducey slammed Nike in a series of tweets, saying he was disappointed by the company's "terrible decision". "In it, he said the Forest Hill Central students had "[waved] a historical version of our flag, that to some symbolizes exclusion and hate" and "injects hostility and confusion to an event where no one meant to do so". Last week, Nike withdrew from China a line of limited edition shoes after the Japanese designer behind them posted in support of the Hong Kong protests against a proposed extradition bill.
NBC reports the Betsy Ross flag previously stirred up controversy in 2016 when students at a predominantly white high school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, waved it at a football game against a majority black school.
Kaepernick's actions proved controversial, and certainly helped propel Nike's name into the headlines. His lawsuit against the NFL alleging collusion by the owners to keep him out of the league was settled in February.
Kaepernick complained to the company after seeing images of the design online.
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