People Who Kick Buts: Nike
There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighbourhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open.
- The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon.
- It is the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment, with revenue in excess of US$18.6 billion in its fiscal year 2008.
- As of 2008, it employed more than 30,000 people worldwide. The brand alone is valued at $10.7 Billion making it the most valuable brand among sports businesses.
- Nike and Precision Castparts are the only Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the state of Oregon, according to The Oregonian.
- Nike, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), was founded by University of Oregon track athlete Philip Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964. It officially became Nike, Inc. on May 30, 1978.
- The company takes its name from Nike (Greek Νίκη, pronounced [nǐːkɛː]), the Greek goddess of victory.
- The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS), making most sales at track meets out of Knight’s automobile.
- According to Otis Davis, a student athlete whom Bowerman coached at the University of Oregon, who later went one to win two gold medals at the 1960 Summer Olympics, Bowerman made the first pair of Nike shoes for him, contradicting a claim that they were made for Phil Knight.
Says Davis, “I told Tom Brokaw that I was the first. I don’t care what all the billionaires say. Bill Bowerman made the first pair of shoes for me. People don’t believe me. In fact, I didn’t like the way they felt on my feet. There was no support and they were too tight. But I saw Bowerman make them from the waffle iron, and they were mine.”
- The first shoe sold to the public to carry this design was a soccer shoe named Nike, which was released in the summer of 1971.