The sneakers, called The Air Max 1 USA, were designed with the “Betsy Ross Flag” on the heel, a flag that has 13 stars in a circle to represent the 13 colonies in the United States at the time.
It was also flown during slavery, which Kaepernick reminded Nike of. Plus, the flag has been used by white supremacist groups as a response to the increasing diversity in the United States, so Nike decided to pull the shoes altogether.
“Nike made the decision to halt distribution of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday,” said the company in a statement earlier this month.
Since the shoes were pulled, Nike’s shares have gone up two percent, which added almost $3 billion to the company’s market value, reports Forbes. That’s despite the backlash over the decision and calls for a boycott.
Kaepernick has become a full-time activist since he stopped playing in the NFL, and before that, as a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, he began kneeling during pregame performances of the national anthem to protest police brutality and criminal justice iniquities against Black people.
The Milwaukee native eventually filed a collusion grievance after he said team owners kept him out of the league, and he received a settlement in February for under $10 million.
Kaepernick also became a spokesman for Nike in 2011 and last year was featured in an ad for its “Just Do It” campaign, which got a lot of backlash from the right.
But just as it happened with the Betsy Ross sneakers, Nike saw a 5 percent increase after they announced Kaepernick would star in the ad.