The Claim and Our Verdict
- The claim: Recently, a photo of a sneaker has been circulating on Facebook. The post claims, “Nike announces full exit from the Russian market and release of Soviet-symbol sneakers.”
- Fact-checking: The photo has been circulating since at least 2018. It has been shared and disseminated amid Nike’s controversies at different times. Therefore, the sneaker design in the photo is not released after Nike’s full exit from the Russian market in 2022.
- Our verdict: The photo of Nike’s Soviet-symbol shoe has been circulating since at least 2018. It is not related to the company’s exit from Russia in 2022.
A photo shared June 29, 2022, on Facebook, claims to show the release of Nike’s Soviet-symbol sneakers after the company’s full exit from the Russian market. The simplified Chinese-language text superimposed on the photo translates as, “Nike announces full exit from the Russian market and release of Soviet-symbol sneakers…The design combines the Nike logo with a hammer, which looks very similar to the hammer–and–sickle logo of the former Soviet Union, while pertaining to the Nike Swoosh.”
Foreign companies have begun to withdraw from the Russian market due to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. On June 23, 2022, Nike announced that it was making a full exit from Russia.
As of the publication of this report, the Facebook post had been shared 12 times, and had received 23 comments and 293 likes or reactions. A similar post has been circulating here.
A reverse image search was conducted. A Twitter reply posted Sept. 7, 2018 was found. The image in the Twitter reply is the same as the one shared in the Facebook post. The reply was in response to a tweet published on the same day by the New York Post, which shared an opinion piece by the newspaper, titled “Colin Kaepernick ad campaign only highlights Nike’s hypocrisy.”
Colin Kaepernick was a football quarterback in the National Football League (NFL). In 2016, Kaepernick knelt during the playing of the U.S. national anthem to protest racial discrimination and police oppression, a move that sparked controversy and aroused opposition from then-President Donald Trump. In 2018, Nike selected Kaepernick as the face of its new advertising campaign, which triggered another round of controversy. The New York Post article said that Nike seemed to express a noble sentiment with its advertisement featuring Kaepernick, but at the same time, it was selling products made in sweatshops. The article considered Nike’s behavior a kind of “hypocrisy.”
In 2019, the photo circulated online again. According to an article published July 3, 2019 by Reuters, Nike was set to release sneakers featuring the Betsy Ross flag (the early design for the flag of the United States). However, after Kaepernick had expressed his dissatisfaction with the design, Nike decided to cancel the release. The early American flag (aka the Betsy Ross flag), consisting of 13 white stars and 13 alternating red and white stripes, was designed by the upholsterer Betsy Ross in 1776. Donald Trump Jr., son of former U.S. President Trump, posted the photo of a Nike shoe bearing the Soviet symbol on July 3 on Twitter: “If the Betsy Ross Flag, the flag of the American Revolution, is too offensive for Nike to commemorate The 4th of July maybe Nike should go with this… seems to be more in line with their views.”
To sum up, the photo of the Nike sneaker bearing the Soviet symbol has been circulating online since at least 2018. It has been shared and disseminated as a satire for many times amid Nike-related controversies. It is not related to Nike’s exit from the Russian market in 2022.
A keyword search on the Nike’s Russian official website was conducted. A statement was found on the website: “Nike has decided to exit from the Russian market. Therefore, NIKE.COM and the Nike mobile app will no longer be available in this region. Nike stores are currently closed and will not be open again.” As of the publication of this report, the sneaker design shown in the Facebook photo has not been found on Nike’s Russian official website.
A keyword search of mainline global news outlets produced no information related to the claim.
The photo of Nike’s Soviet-symbol shoe has been circulating since at least 2018. It is not related to the company’s exit from Russia in 2022.
- Facebook, post, June 29, 2022.
- Reuters, “EXCLUSIVE Nike to make full exit from Russia,” June 23, 2022.
- Facebook, post, July 2, 2022.
- Twitter, tweet, Sept. 6, 2018.
- The New York Post, “Colin Kaepernick ad campaign only highlights Nike’s hypocrisy,” Sept. 6, 2018.
- National Football League, “Colin Kaepernick explains why he sat during national anthem,” Aug. 27, 2016.
- The Guardian, “Donald Trump blasts NFL anthem protesters: ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field’,” Sept. 23, 2017.
- ABC, “Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ‘Just Do It’ campaign is controversial, but on brand: Experts,” Sept. 5, 2018.
- Twitter, tweet, July 3, 2019.
- Reuters, “Reports: Nike pulls shoe after Kaepernick’s criticism,” July 3, 2019.
- Nike’s Russian official website