Nike is pulling a flag-themed tennis shoe after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained to the shoemaker, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The shoe's heel has a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle on it, known as the Betsy Ross flag. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the Journal said that Kaepernick, a Nike endorser, told the company he and others found the flag symbol offensive because of its connection to slavery.
The Air Max 1 USA shoe had already been sent to retailers to go on sale this week for the July 4 holiday, the Journal said.
But after the former quarterback and current Nike pitchman spoke with the company, Nike changed its mind.
"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 spokesperson for the company told the newspaper.
The about-face is now drawing criticism of its own.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey lashed out at the company over Twitter, saying that he is asking the state's Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentives for the company to locate there.
"Arizona's economy is doing just fine without Nike," he said. "We don't need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation's history."
Nike was planning to construct a $185 million US plant in Goodyear, Ariz., that would employ more than 500 people.