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McConnell urges Nike to release 'Betsy Ross' shoes: 'I'll make the first order'

The Hill logo The Hill 7/3/2019 Marina Pitofsky
Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: McConnell urges Nike to release 'Betsy Ross' shoes: 'I'll make the first order' © Greg Nash McConnell urges Nike to release 'Betsy Ross' shoes: 'I'll make the first order'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he disagreed with Nike's decision to scrap a shoe line for July Fourth that featured a Revolutionary War-era flag designed by Betsy Ross.

"If we're in a political environment where the American flag has become controversial to Americans, I think we've got a problem," McConnell told reporters during a trip to a Lexington, Ky., hemp farm, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

"I hope Nike either releases these shoes or some other shoe maker picks up the flag, puts it on a pair of shoes and starts selling it. I'll make the first order," he added.

Nike was blasted this week for reportedly nixing plans to release a sneaker featuring the early-American flag to celebrate Independence Day after former NFL player Colin Kaepernick told the brand the image was associated with an era of slavery.

The shoe company has defended its decision, saying it "regularly" withdraws "initiatives, products and services."

"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," Nike said in a statement to The Hill earlier Tuesday.

Nike has faced backlash for the decision from other Republican lawmakers and organizations over the canceled shoe design.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that he would ask the state government to pull financial incentives for the company. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) also tweeted that he would no longer buy Nike products.

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