Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was pictured wearing Nike sneakers just 48 hours after he threatened to withdraw $2million in financial incentives for the company to construct a plant in the Grand Canyon State.
Nike pulled its Betsy Ross-flag themed sneakers from production after former NFL star and activist Colin Kaepernick called them ‘offensive’.
In a series of tweets, Ducey said that ‘words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision’.
‘I am embarrassed for Nike,’ the governor tweeted, adding that Tuesday was supposed to be a good day in Arizona ‘with the announcement of a major Nike investment in Goodyear, AZ’.
But Twitter account @CocinoCountryDemocrats captured the Republican governor wearing a pair of black Nikes at a Fourth of July cookout.
This led to reaction from several social media users, who flocked to Twitter and called Ducey’s actions hypocritical.
‘We see you @dougducey. Walkin’ the walk NOT,’ tweeted one user.
‘Nice job @dougducey – solid moral and ethical stance on a topic that you clearly care a great deal about,’ wrote another user.
One user joked: ‘Hey things are tough for governors. [He] is waiting on his next paycheck to buy a pair of new balance.’
Ducey has not responded to the criticism yet.
On Monday, Nike announced that it would be dropping sneakers featuring an early American flag, known as ‘the Betsy Ross flag’, that were created in celebration of July 4th. The company dropped the shoe after Kaepernick complained to Nike having seen images of the design online.
The Air Max 1 USA shoes were set to go on sale this week for $140.
The 31-year-old quarterback, who is also a Nike endorser, said the old American flag emblazoned on the sneakers’ heels was offensive because of its links to an era of slavery, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Nike had already shipped the shoes to retailers when it asked for them to be returned without explanation, according to the newspaper.
‘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,’ a Nike spokeswoman said.
However, the The Journal reported that some of the shoes made it onto the market – with an online retailer selling a pair for up to $2,000.
Kaepernick reportedly declined to comment.
Following Nike’s decision, Ducey announced that he would be asking the state’s Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentives for the company to locate to Arizona.
‘Nike is an iconic American brand and American company. This country, our system of government and free enterprise have allowed them to prosper and flourish,’ the governor tweeted.
‘Instead of celebrating American history the week of our nation’s independence, Nike has apparently decided that Betsy Ross is unworthy, and has bowed to the current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism.
‘It is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.
‘Nike has made its decision, and now we’re making ours. I’ve ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion that the State was providing for the company to locate here,’ the governor said.
Ducey tweeted that ‘Arizona’s economy is doing just fine without Nike’.
‘We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history.’
In conclusion, Ducey said that ‘it shouldn’t take a controversy over a shoe for our kids to know who Betsy Ross is’.
‘A founding mother. Her story should be taught in all American schools. In the meantime, it’s worth googling her.’
The sneaker company was planning to construct a $185million plant in Goodyear, Arizona that would employee more than 500 people.
According to Lalit Monteiro, Nike’s vice president of Air Manufacturing Innovation, the plant would be the company’s third manufacturing facility in the US.
During negotiations that began in May, the city agreed to waive up to nearly $1million in plan review and permit fees, and promised to reimburse Nike another $1million for the jobs created, according to AZ Central.
Goodyear estimated that a Nike plant would bring in $7.7million in direct revenue for the city and put its overall economic impact at more than $483million within the plant’s first five years.
The Betsy Ross flag, which features 13 white stars in a circle representing the 13 original US colonies, was created during the American Revolution.
It was a time when lawmakers advocated for the expansion of slavery and declared that those born into slavery were slaves for life.
The flag has more recently been appropriated by some extremist groups opposed to the country’s increasing diversity.
Twitter users had mixed reactions to the news of the recall.
‘The Betsy Ross flag has been turned into a symbol of white nationalism and domestic extremism,’ one user wrote.
‘Conservatives will whine, but Colin Kaepernick was right to speak out and Nike was right to pull the products,’ the Twitter user added.
Another Twitter user thanked Kaepernick for ‘shedding light on the fact that Betsy Ross’ flag is racist’.
‘I’m sitting here shaking now that I know that my history teachers left this vital piece of information from me.’
Others called Kaepernick ‘un-American’.
‘Nike just pulled a 4th of July themed shoe feat a Betsy Ross American Flag because @Kaepernick7 complained saying it was ‘offensive’?!?!?!
‘Can we just for ONE DAY Attempt to be Americans and be PROUD especially during the 4th of July! The day we became America?!’ one person wrote.
‘I’m offended at how [Nike] support someone who doesn’t support their county,’ another person tweeted.
Kaepernick ignited a nationwide controversy in 2016 when he decided to protest inequality and racist police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem.
Since starting the demonstrations during the NFL preseason three years ago, Kaepernick has been joined by scores of other NFL players in the face of intense criticism, namely from President Donald Trump, who has referred to the protesters as ‘sons of b***hes’.
The demonstrations were primarily a reaction to the deaths of African-American men at the hands of law enforcement.
The free agent quarterback last played in the NFL in 2016, going unsigned since the kneeling protest.
In February, he settled collusion grievances that alleged the league and its teams conspired to keep Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid unsigned because of their political activism.
The settlement was for less than $10million.
Last September, Nike introduced Kaepernick as the new face of its ‘Just Do It’ ad campaign.
A month later, the company released a long-sleeved black t-shirt with the controversial free agent quarterback’s name emblazoned in reflective lettering along the back, and the $50 item sold out within only a few hours.
The move to make the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback the face of its ad campaign generated a backlash among some consumers, who set fire to Nike shoes.
But others were vocal in their support for Nike – which is one of the NFL’s biggest partners.
Despite the initial backlash and a share drop, the company reportedly made around $6billion from the move.