Nike was supposed to release an Air Max 1 with the “Betsy Ross” version of the American flag. However, the backlash from its design caused the sneaker company to pull out the merchandise and cancel its sale, but the turn of events led the pair to become an instant collector’s item.
Significantly, NFL Star Colin Kaepernick, an African-American, led the complaints against the controversial Air Max 1. He expressed that the pair Nike was about to release had racist undertones due to the use of the flag with 13 stars emblazoned on the back of the shoes.
After considering Kaepernick’s claims, Nike decided that they were valid and had them recalled and canceled—putting an end to the sale. However, as TMZ reported, Nike’s decision instantly turned the pair into a limited edition.
Ironically, after Nike’s announcement, the demand for the pair skyrocketed and online prices to receive a pair amounted to a whopping $2,000. Supposedly, the shoe manufacturer was only meant to sell a pair between the $120 to $150 range.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the athletic-wear company delivered the sneakers to retailers since it was meant to go on sale last June 29, but they asked stores to return them to Nike after Kaepernick’s complaints.
As of the moment, it is undisclosed how many pairs were already sold to early consumers, but apparently, they are already being sold online and offline for more than 200% of what it was initially worth.
According to a website named StockX — a popular streetwear auction site — one pair of the Betsy Ross-inspired Air Max 1 is sold for $2,501 for a size 8 pair. Meanwhile, a pair of size 10.5s and a pair of size 9s sold for $2,000 each, and another 10.5 sold for $1,750.
Outrageously, there’s a pair of size 10s that’s currently worth $6,974. Furthermore, a few pairs of size 10s have already been sold at $1,200 range, TMZ said.
Although the aftermath of Nike’s decision to admit fault and consequently pull out its Betsy Ross shoes resulted to an unexpected circumstance, Kaepernick’s claims still stand when he said that he and others found the shoes offensive and resonate an era of slavery.
The American flag, having 13 stars organized in a circle with 13 stripes, was used during the late 18th century and represented the original 13 colonies. According to the Smithsonian, that version of the flag was used in the United States from 1777 to 1795—a period when slavery ran rampant in the country.
Furthermore, it was created during the American Revolution and later adopted for use by the American Nazi party. Today, Kaepernick argued that the flag displayed on Nike’s Air Max 1 shoes were being used by two prominent white nationalist groups including the Patriot movement.
Betsy Ross was credited for sewing the first “Stars and Stripes” flag in 1776, although this version of events has been rejected by modern US scholars.
On Nike’s perspective, the pair was supposed to be an Independence Day special as their way of celebrating the Fourth of July. But apparently, critics have ridiculed this move as a racist way of taking part in the festivities.
In the light of the situation, Doug Ducey, Arizona’s Mayor decided to send a couple of tweets saying that it has decided to pull out from a multi-million dollar investment deal that would allow the sneaker giant to establish a factory in Goodyear City.
“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,” he said.
Regarding the decision of Nike to pull out its shoes instead of defending and putting Betsy Ross and her contribution upfront, Ducey said that “it is a shameful retreat for the company. American businesses should be proud of our country’s history, not abandoning it.”
“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,” he added.
“And finally, 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.”