Jul 2, 2019

Arizona Gov. pulls aid for Nike plant after Betsy Ross shoe line axed

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Colin Kaepernick's Nike ad. Photos: Ralph Freso/Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona said he will yank state funding for a Nike plant following the shoe maker's "terrible decision" to cancel a sneaker line with the colonial version of the American flag.

The big picture: On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that former NFL quarterback and Nike spokesperson Colin Kaepernick told Nike the "Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July" featuring the Betsy Ross flag is considered offensive with racist symbolism and asked for it not to be released.

“Words cannot express my disappointment at this terrible decision. I am embarrassed for Nike. ... 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."
— Gov. Doug Ducey said in a Twitter thread

The backdrop: Nike had plans to invest $185 million in Goodyear, Arizona to open a plant with 500 new jobs. The Goodyear City Council approved on Monday about $1 million in incentives to reimburse Nike for the hires and planning fees.

The original American flag was designed by Betsy Ross in the 18th century with 13 stars representing the original colonies. Reports have shown the flag's present day use has been largely in support of white supremacy and nationalism, per Mlive.com. The American Nazi party once adopted the Betsy Ross flag as a symbol, the BBC reports.

  • In 2016, the superintendent of a Michigan school district apologized after students waved the Betsy Ross flag at a high school football game, Mlive.com reports.
  • The local chapter of the NAACP put out a statement following the incident saying the flag has been appropriated by some extremist groups who disapprove of diversity in the U.S.

The bottom line: Kaepernick has had considerable influence on Nike's brand since 2018 when he signed as a spokesperson with a provocative ad campaign. Since then, Nike's sales have been higher in both the U.S. and China. According to Reuters, the company’s fourth quarter earnings saw sales rise 4% to $10.18 billion with an increased share price of more than 15% in 2019.

Go deeper: By the numbers: The rise of "belief-driven" buyers

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 721,817 — Total deaths: 33,968 — Total recoveries: 151,204.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 11 p.m. ET: 142,328 — Total deaths: 2,489 — Total recoveries: 4,767.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

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There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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