50 Things You Didn't Know About Nike


50 years ago, on January 25th, 1964, Nike was born. Well, not Nike we as we know it, but on that date Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded Blue Ribbon Sports, which would eventually turn into the biggest athletic brand in the world. With its roots on the campus of the University of Oregon—where Bowerman coached track and Knight ran for him—Nike would change the world of footwear and, eventually, turn a generation of consumers into "sneakerheads." That's old news, but with the brand celebrating a half-century in the game, it's the perfect point to reflect on the little-known tidbits that have occurred over the past 50 years: Who was Nike's first employee? What was the brand's first sneaker? Why didn't Michael Jordan want to wear the Air Jordan 1?
If you wear Nike sneakers on a regular basis, these are all facts you should know. So here's your history lesson. Here are 50 Things You Didn't Know About Nike.

Nike was first formed as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 and served as a distributor for Onitsuka Tiger.

50 nike facts onitsuka tiger

The Air Jordan 1 was the first sneaker in the Air Jordan 1 line, but it wasn't the first sneaker Jordan wore in the

50 nike facts michael jordan nba

Jeff Johnson was the first employee of Nike.

50 nike facts jeff johnson first employee

Phil Knight wanted to name the brand "Dimension 6" instead of Nike.

50 nike facts dimension 6 phil knight

During a job interview before he started Blue Ribbon Sports, Phil Knight has a big mishap.

50 nike facts phil knight blue ribbon sports

Nike, like many other giant brands, doesn't own the factories its products are made in.

50 nike facts factory

Nike ACG was inspired by hikers who climbed K-2 in Nike LDV sneakers.

50 nike facts k 2 hiking

When Michael Jordan first saw the Air Jordan 1, he didn't want to wear it.

50 nike facts michael jordan air jordan 1

Shaq wore all Reebok to meet with Nike.

50 nike facts shaq reebok

Savier wasn't started by Nike, but was purchased by the brand in its early development stages.

50 nike facts savier

Ilie Nastase was the first athlete to endorse Nike when he signed a contract in 1972.

50 nike facts ilie nastase

The "Just Do It" campaign was first launched in 1988, and is now enshrined at the Smithsonian National Museum.

Phil Knight refers to Steve Prefontaine as the "Soul of Nike."

Michael J. Fox just didn't wear Air Mags in "Back to the Future."

"Just Do It" was inspired by serial killer Gary Gilmore.

50 nike facts just do it gary gilmore

Daewoo, the now defunct car company, was responsible for the creation of the Foamposite.

50 nike facts daewoo foamposite

Carolyn Davidson, a Portland State University student, designed the Swoosh for $35.

50 nike facts portland state university

Foot Locker stopped carrying high-end Nike sneakers in 2003.

50 nike facts foot locker

Nike's Zoom Air was first introduced in 1995, but it wasn't called Zoom Air.

50 nike facts nike zoom air

Nike's R&D facility, the Nike Sports Research Laboratory, was originally opened in Exeter, N.H. not Beaverton, Ore.

50 nike facts exeter new hampshire

The Onitsuka Tiger Corsair was the sneaker that gave birth to one of Nike's most iconic sneakers, the Cortez.

50 nike facts cortez

Phil Knight came up with the idea for a sneaker company while writing a college paper.

50 nike facts writing college paper

The first "sneaker" to have a Swoosh on it wasn't a sneaker at all.

50 nike facts swoosh sneaker

Phil Knight's donations to the University of Oregon, his alma mater, are private and not through Nike.

50 nike facts university of oregon

Nike's Air Max units shrunk because it went away from inflating them with SF6, a greenhouse gas.

50 nike facts nike air max shrunk

Nike actually made sneakers in the USA.

50 nike facts made in usa

The Blazer is named after the Portland Trailblazers.


From 1983-1984, Phil Knight stepped down as president.

50 nike facts president step down phil knight

Contrary to popular belief, Nike Golf didn't start with the signing of Tiger Woods.


Mark Parker, the current CEO of Nike, doesn't have any connection to the University of Oregon.

50 nike facts mark parker

The color "Columbia Blue" is named after the Columbia Lions.

50 nike facts columbia blue lions

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino criticized Nike for having "distasteful" T-shirts on display in the window of Niketown B

50 nike facts thomas menino boston mayor

The Air Force 1, which originally came out in 1982, was discontinued after its first year-long run.

50 nike facts air force one

Nike was pursuing Len Bias before his death.

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Nike made acid wash golf shorts in 1991.

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The Jeremy Fish x Nike SB Classic was recalled by Nike because it wasn't satisfied with the embossing on the sneake

50 nike facts air jeremy fish recall

The commercial for Air Max was the first time a record from The Beatles had been used in a commercial.

50 nike facts air max commercial

Phil Knight thought the Livestrong bracelet was "one of the dumbest ideas he ever heard."

50 nike facts livestrong bracelet stupid idea

Despite the brand's Oregon roots, the first retail store was opened in California.

50 nike facts oregon based california first retail store

Phil Knight was the first EKIN.

50 nike facts phil knight ekin

Nike is the only footwear brand to become the leader of the industry, lose its position, and then gain it back.

50 nike facts only brand to lose and regain its position

Nike accidentally put the map of South Carolina on a T-shirt for the Carolina Panthers.

50 nike facts south carolina panthers shirt

On May 27, 1990, over 80,000 pairs of Nike sneakers were lost at sea.

50 nike facts 80000 shoes lost at sea

Michael Jordan didn't want to sign with Nike, but his parents made him meet with the brand.

50 nike facts michael jordan meet parents

The early '90s craving for rugged boots dropped Nike's stock.

50 nike facts 90s boots nike sales

Tinker Hatfield, designer of much of Nike's core models, is surprised that hip-hop adopted his work.

50 nike facts tinker hatfield hip hop

The Nike Huarache was first inspired by Tinker Hatfield going waterskiing.

50 nike facts huarache

Originally, a good portion of Nike's upper management believe that clothes weren't of importance to an athlete.

50 nike facts clothing athletes

Nike only expected $3M in sales for the first three years of the Air Jordan line.

50 nike facts air jordans

For the '96 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Nike put out an ad that said, "You don't win silver, you lose gold."

50 nike facts atlanta olympics