Nike’s background is full of strange stories.
Nike was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports, and it was mainly a distributor for the Japanese manufacturer Onitsuka Tiger. It was created by Bill Bowerman, an athletic trainer, and Phil Knight, a runner. Knight’s original intention was to name the company Dimension 6.
The name Nike came thanks to the company’s first employee, Jeff Johnson, who was inspired by Nike, the goddess of victory.
That’s not the only quirky story. According to company lore, their first shoes were made with a waffle machine (Bowerman was inspired by watching his wife cook breakfast). They created shoes that were light but with great traction, and Bowerman patented the idea as the Nike Waffle Trainer.
Their characteristic “swoosh” logo was designed by Carolyn Davidson, a design student, who charged them $35 for the project (that would still only be about $200 today). She also got a share that’s worth over $640,000 today.
The slogan “Just do it” was inspired by the last words of serial killer Gary Gilmore before he was executed (“Let’s do it”).
Nike was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports and changed its name to Nike in 1971. They operate in 43 countries, with 679 factories and over a million employees.