Nike struck down a plan to release a shoe featuring the original version of the U.S. flag this week at the request of Colin Kaepernick, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The shoe, the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July, featured a logo of the original U.S. flag, the design of which by popular lore is credited to Betsy Ross, with 13 stars in a circle.
The Journal reports that Kaepernick told Nike it shouldn't use that version of the flag, as he and others consider it an offensive symbol due to its connection to a time when slavery was legal.
Colin Kaepernick reached out to Nike saying that he and others felt the Betsy Ross flag is an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery https://t.co/6Y2mIlbAuT— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 2, 2019
In a statement, Nike said it chose not to release the shoe "as it featured an old version of the American flag."
Nike released a second statement later Tuesday, 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.
"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."
Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem in 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. He was the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback at the time; he has not played in the NFL since opting out of his contract after that season.
A Nike-sponsored athlete since 2011, Kaepernick was featured in a new ad campaign at the start of the 2018 NFL season.
Nike still offers the Air Max 1 in red, white and blue, saying the shoe "updates the legendary design with patriotic colors."
According to the Journal, Nike asked retailers to send back the shoes with the U.S. flag on them.