Nike explains why it pulled the controversial 'Betsy Ross flag' sneaker

nike betsy ross sneakersNike / Thomson Reuters

  • Nike said Tuesday that it canceled the release of a sneaker featuring the "Betsy Ross flag" because it could "offend and detract" from the Fourth of July.
  • "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 company said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
  • Nike initially said it made the decision to pull the shoes because it featured an "old version" of the American flag.
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Nike said Tuesday that it canceled the release of an American-flag-themed shoe this week because it could "offend and detract" from the Fourth of July.

"We regularly make business decisions to withdraw initiatives, products and services," Nike said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "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 shoes featured a version of the US flag with 13 white stars that was created during the American revolution and is widely referred to as the "Betsy Ross flag."

The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday that Nike pulled the shoes after the former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who endorses Nike, reportedly said he found the flag design offensive due to its association with a time of slavery in America.

Read more: Nike is facing backlash after killing a Betsy Ross-themed shoe - but many of the defenders of the 'founding mother' are pushing an unproven version of the flag maker's history

Nike initially said in response to the Journal's report that it canceled the shoe because it featured an "old version" of the American flag.

Nike's statement Tuesday afternoon expanded on that initial response and said the company is "proud of its American heritage."

"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," the company said. "We already employ 35,000 people in the U.S. and remain committed to creating jobs in the US, including a significant investment in an additional manufacturing center which will create 500 new jobs."

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