Just hours before Nike’s Independence Day-themed Air Max 1 USA was set to go on sale across America, the sportswear giant has pulled the kicks amidst apparent concerns from Colin Kaepernick about connections to the country’s slavery past – and that’s got Laura Ingraham hitting the boycott button.
“Pathetic!!” the Fox News Channel host tweeted out this evening after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Betsy Ross-tinged Air Max 1 USA was DOA after the former NFL star and Nike-sponsored civil rights activist expressed reservations to top execs at co-founder Phil Knight’s company about the use of the old flag on the shoe.
Not content with making her POV known in one word, Ingraham followed up less than an hour later with seven more:
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) July 2, 2019
As social media started taking its own kicks from opposite sides of the political field over the $140 shoe that was supposed to be on the shelves Monday, Team Kaepernick did not respond to request for comment from Deadline on the matter.
However, Nike did have a statement, ambiguous as it might be.
“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,” the Oregon-based corporation said.
Purported to have been made in 1776 at the request of George Washington, the 13-white-starred flag Ross has taken on a questionable quality due to its link to the “era of slavery,” as the WSJ said in Monday’s report online. In the past decade or so, ultra-right and extremist groups like the Patriot movement have taken the old flag up as a symbol, which probably also isn’t an optic Nike thought through very much until the repeatedly forthright Kaepernick raised the subject in the past few days.
Blackballed by the NFL for his stance of taking a knee during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice, the ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback has become a valued part of Nike in the last year with the big-bucks marketing campaign that dropped during last year’s NFL season opener.
With copy like “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” the branding effort saw sales surge despite conservative backlash. Not that it should have been that much of an eye-opener – Kaepernick already had one of the best-selling shirts in the league and spawned the widely used #ImWithKap hashtag.
Earlier this year the NFL and the ex-quarterback reached a confidential multimillion-dollar settlement in the latter’s potentially explosive and exposing collusion lawsuit. Neither side nor fellow plaintiff Eric Reid has spoken publicly about the case since the announcement in February, but clearly the NFL blinked and then some.
Having said that, you know — you just know — that if a FNC host planted a flag on this dropped-shoe matter, there is a very good chance Donald Trump would have something to say about it and Kap sooner or later.