News and Commentary

New Mexico Governor Jumps In On Kaepernick-Nike Action Amid Flag Controversy

After reports that Nike pulled the patriotic “Betsy Ross Flag” edition of a shoe after national anthem-protesting former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained that it was “offensive,” Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Tuesday that his state would be pulling financial incentives offered to Nike to build a manufacturing facility in the state.

“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,” Ducey wrote in a series of tweets Tuesday. “Nike has made its decision, and now we’re making ours. 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.”

The next morning, the Democratic governor of Arizona’s neighboring state sent a very different message to Nike: “Hey, Nike, let’s talk,” tweeted New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in response to Ducey’s posts.

“We want those jobs,” said the governor’s director of communications, Tripp Stelnicki. “It’s wild that anyone would jeopardize viable employment for potentially hundreds of state residents because of some political virtue-signaling.” The outlet reports that Stelnicki confirmed that the governor’s office has reached out to Nike about working out a deal for the manufacturing facility, KOB 4 reports (h/t HotAir).

As The Daily Wire reported, another Democratic governor who is now publicly courting Nike is California’s Gavin Newsom, who sent his own “Hey Nike” message Tuesday, but took his outreach effort further by declaring Nike’s decision to pull the flag honoring America’s heritage and an iconic female “the right thing.” Nike, said Newsom, represents “the best of our American values.”

“Nike Hey, @Nike — we’re just a quick jaunt over the border…” Newsom tweeted Tuesday evening. “Thank you for doing the right thing. CA is open for business and welcomes those that represent the best of our American values.”

The controversy began when Nike decided to pull production on a patriotic shoe that contained the Betsy Ross Flag, the original American flag designed by Ross during the American War for Independence that contains 13 stars in a circle, representing the original 13 colonies.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Nike was planning on investing some $185 million in a facility in Goodyear, Arizona that would employ around 500 people. The Goodyear City Council “approved a package of incentives that would reimburse the company about $1 million in planning fees and about $4,000 per full-time employee Nike hires, according to city records,” the Journal notes.

While various governors vie for a chance to get some of that Nike money, backlash is building against the company online, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz leading the way on the “#WalkAwayFromNike” movement.

Kaepernick sparked the anthem protest movement during the 2016 preseason when he began refusing to stand to honor the flag before games. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told the press in August 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” After a dismal 2016 season with the 49ers, who went 2-14, Kaepernick opted for free agency but no team would sign him. He became “the face of Nike” last year when the company signed a massive deal with him for its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

Related: BACKLASH: Boycott Gains Steam After Nike Drops American Flag Shoe At Colin Kaepernick’s Behest