The shoe, which featured an early American flag from the 1770s with 13 stars for the 13 colonies, had already been shipped to stores and was set to go on sale for the Fourth of July this week. But the Journal reports the company pulled the sneaker, asking retailers to return them, after Kaepernick privately argued to Nike officials that the Betsy Ross flag is an "offensive symbol" due to its association with slavery.
Kaepernick hadn't been the only one to raise that point, though. The sneaker had also drawn criticism on social media for the same reason, BuzzFeed News reports, noting that the flag has been used by white nationalists.
Nike in a statement to the Journal confirmed it pulled the shoe because it "featured the old version of the American flag," although it did not comment on Kaepernick's reported role in the decision. The former quarterback, who in 2016 kickstarted a protest against racial inequality by kneeling during the National Anthem, last year partnered with Nike for an ad campaign. "Believe in something," Kaepernick's ad said. "Even if it means sacrificing everything." Kaepernick has not confirmed The Wall Street Journal's report.