NEW YORK — Nike is pulling a shoe that features a “Betsy Ross” U.S. flag design after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained to the shoemaker, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal said Kaepernick, a prominent Nike endorser and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, told the company he and others found the flag symbol offensive because of a connection to slavery.

The shoe’s heel has a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle on it. It’s commonly known as the Betsy Ross flag, used in the United States from 1777 to 1795, though historians generally say Ross didn’t actually design it.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the Journal said Kaepernick, a prominent Nike endorser and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, told the company he and others found the flag symbol offensive because of a connection to slavery.

“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag,” Nike said in a statement to CNBC.

On social media, some argued that white supremacists have appropriated the flag design, while others argued that even if that’s true, it’s no reason to pull the shoe.

The Air Max 1 USA shoe had already been sent to retailers to go on sale this week for the Fourth of July holiday, the Journal reports.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey lashed out at Nike’s decision to yank the sneaker, tweeting 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. We don’t need to suck up to companies that consciously denigrate our nation’s history,” he wrote.

The shoe would have retailed for $140, according to Sneakernews.com.

Kaepernick became a polarizing figure after he chose not to stand for the national anthem before a 2016 NFL preseason football game. Kaepernick said he was protesting racial injustice. Detractors said he was showing disrespect to the U.S. flag and to military service members.

GV Wire staff contributed to this Associated Press story.

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