These kicks got called offensive — and then they got expensive.
Nike’s Air Max 1 USA sneakers — whose launch reportedly was kiboshed when Colin Kaepernick called to complain about its Betsy Ross flag design — fetched as much as $2,500 Tuesday on online sneaker auction site StockX.
Former NFL quarterback Kaepernick, who is a Nike endorser, told Nike the shoes were offensive because the original, 13-star American flag designed by Betsy Ross has a connection to the era of slavery, the Wall Street Journal reported late Monday.
The sneakers, which were expected to go on sale this week in anticipation of the Fourth of July, had already been en route to retailers. Some were thought to already be in the hands of social media influencers to hype their release.
“It’s likely some verified resellers, who typically get new launches ahead of time from the company, may have sold some online,” said Cristina Fernandez of Telsey Advisory Group.
In a Tuesday statement, Nike said it made the last-minute call to yank the shoes “based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday.”
More than likely, Nike felt caught in a bind after it got Kaepernick’s call, said Michael Stone, chairman of Beanstalk Group.
Nike had a choice: “Stick with it and offend people or abandon it and offend other people,” according to Stone.
Although Nike reportedly asked retailers to return the shoes, their sudden notoriety makes it likely that a lively black market will emerge, experts said.
Arizona governor yanks Nike incentives after it pulls flag-themed sneaker
Arizona will yank financial incentives for Nike’s manufacturing plant in…
“Products that get pulled from the market become collectibles. It’s the nature of the beast,” Stone said. “You think everyone is going to send them back? Especially if there’s the opportunity to make $2,500?”
By Tuesday afternoon, StockX had taken down listings of Air Max 1 USA sneakers.
“The sale of this product on our platform does not align with our value system,” StockX CEO Scott Cutler tweeted.
StockX declined to elaborate, but the move sparked an immediate backlash on Twitter.
“Does selling shoes made in sweatshops by actual slaves align with your values?” one hacked-off user replied.
Last September, Nike weathered a backlash after it picked Kaepernick to be the face of an ad campaign to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” motto. The Ex-San Francisco 49er has been a divisive figure since he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.