GOP Strikes Back: Nike loses Arizona factory deal after pulling ‘Betsy Ross’ sneakers

By Timothy Nerozzi

July 3, 2019

In response to Nike’s decision to pull its “Betsy Ross” sneakers from shelves, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, announced that he is withdrawing $2 million worth of special tax and financial incentives from a planned Nike factory to be built in the Grand Canyon State.

“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,” said Ducey.

The Arizona plant is slated to create 500 jobs.

Officially known as “Air Max one USA” sneakers, the Nike shoes featured a “Betsy Ross” flag on each heel. The iconic flag sports a circle of 13 stars in a blue field as well as 13 alternating red and white stripes. The design, first stitched by the revolutionary-era seamstress Betsy Ross, was based on notes from then-General George Washington. It was the official flag of the United States from 1777 to 1795.

The flag also appears in the seal for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs alongside the modern incarnation of the American flag.

Nike was at first surprised that the sneakers were controversial. The Betsy Ross flag had been flown at the inaugurations of many presidents, including President Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump.

Nevertheless, a storm of Twitter criticism erupted, since the flag hailed from a time when slavery widely practiced in America, in both the North and the South. Other critics said that the flag has previously been used as a symbol by white-supremacist groups. Former National Football League star Colin Kaepernick, now a Nike spokesman, led the charge against the Nike shoes. Nike stock briefly climbed on the news of the shoes being withdrawn.

Arizona’s loss may be California’s gain. California Governor Gary Newsom, a Democrat, congratulated Nike’s decision to pull the Betsy Ross sneakers and lobbied Nike to move its planned factory to California. “Thank you for doing the right thing,” said Newsom. “[California] is open for business and welcomes those that represent the best of our American values.”

The Golden State has seen an exodus of manufacturing jobs as it has raised taxes and tightened environmental rules.

On Twitter, New York Times columnist David Brooks pointed out that the company name, Nike, comes from ancient Greek mythology. Like most ancient societies, the economy of the ancient Greek city-states was based on slavery. Brooks wrote: “I only wear New Balance because Nike was a goddess in a Greek culture that practiced slavery.”