President Barack Obama is well known as a basketball fanatic, but he might feel more like going for a jog after receiving a custom-made pair of New Balance running shows, embroidered with the words “President” and “Obama,” on them Friday night in Maine.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or free sneakers, however. Obama will also get a nudge from a Maine lawmaker to require that the Department of Defense outfit service members with domestically-produced athletic shoes.
Mike Michaud, who represents Maine’s Second Congressional District, picked up Obama’s size 12D gray sneakers on Friday from New Balance’s facility in Norridgewock, central Maine. He will present the shoes at an Obama fundraiser at the Portland Museum of Art.
Michaud has been working on the defense issue since last year to promote manufacturing growth in his state. Maine is historically a major footwear manufacturer which has seen its production undercut by foreign competition. In all, tens of thousands of U.S. jobs in the footwear industry have moved overseas.
“The workers in Norridgewock produced a pair of high-quality sneakers, and I’m proud to be able to deliver this Maine-made product to the President,” Michaud said. “I’m hopeful he’ll make this policy change so that we can create more jobs in Maine. We also need to be doing whatever we can to encourage domestic procurement government-wide.”