It may be a day past the Fourth of July, but the controversy surrounding Nike’s USA flag-themed sneaker has yet to fizzle.
The Beaverton, Ore.-based company found itself in the spotlight early this week when it cancelled the release of its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July shoes, featuring an early design of the United States flag commonly called the “Betsy Ross flag.” (Nike endorser and former NFL star Colin Kaepernick reportedly informed brand officials that the flag’s symbolism is offensive to some people, including himself, considering its connection to an era of slavery.)
In response, Arizona governor Doug Ducey — who criticized the Swoosh for bowing to the “current onslaught of political correctness and historical revisionism” — announced that he would be withdrawing a $1 million incentive in tax breaks for Nike’s proposed plant in the state.
“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,” Ducey wrote on Twitter. “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.”
However, in a video shared by the City of Goodyear, Mayor Georgia Lord stated that the council had unanimously approved a job creation agreement with Nike and would “honor the commitment” made in the deal.
“It has been a focus of Goodyear City Council to build a strong economy for years to come, and we will continue to work hard to bring the kind of high quality jobs that our residents deserve,” Lord explained.
In a statement, Nike wrote, “We already employ 35,000 people in the U.S. and remain committed to creating jobs in the U.S., including a significant investment in an additional manufacturing center which will create 500 new jobs.”
On top of those full-time positions, the athletic business promised to invest upwards of $180 million toward infrastructure improvements in the city. The city council expects Nike’s new facility to have an estimated economic impact of $483 million over a period of five years.
The news also comes as Gov. Ducey was spotted wearing Nike sneakers at a Fourth of July party.
FN has reached out to Nike for further comment.
Watch FN’s interview with Nike trainer Joe Holder.
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