Few logos can rival the iconic stature of the Nike Swoosh. The price paid for the Swoosh when it was first created, $35, is almost as famous as the logo itself. The story behind it is recalled by Swoosh creator Carolyn Davidson in a piece with Portland State University, of which Davidson is an alum.
As a struggling design major in college, Davidson couldn't even afford to enroll in an oil painting class she wanted to take. She was approached by Nike co-founder Phil Knight—who hadn't started the company yet and was teaching an accounting class at PSU to make ends meet—who offered Davidson a gig at his company, Blue Ribbon Sports, to help him design charts and graphs for investors. Eventually, he was part of the team working on creating Nike. "Then every designer's dream job came in," Davidson says. "[Knight] said, 'Would you like to design a shoe stripe?' I didn't hesitate and as luck would have it, I didn't have any competition."
The only "requirement" was for the logo "to look like speed." The result was more or less the Swoosh we know today even though Knight didn't like it at first. It eventually grew on him and cost just a $35 commission to Davidson. As Nike took off, Davidson continued to work there for a few years before eventually leaving. That $35 turned into an undisclosed amount of Nike stock years down the line as Knight was gracious enough to gift Davidson shares of the company as a reimbursement for creating arguably the most recognizable logo in the world.