- Phil Knight founded Nike in 1964
- Nike started off as Blue Ribbon Sports
- Knight and Bill Bowerman had to shell out $500 each to fund the company
Phil Knight is the richest person in Portland, Oregon with his $39 billion net worth. Here is how the Nike founder built his empire.
Like many great, global companies, Nike started humbly in 1964. Knight founded the company, then known as Blue Ribbon Sports, with track coach Bill Bowerman. The two of them chipped in $500 each and with inputs on how to improve the performance of athletes with the help of running shoes, Knight had an idea where to start.
Now the company has been synonymous with great, athletic experience not just on the track and field, but on different sports disciplines such as football, basketball, soccer, baseball and volleyball. Nike would then become a shoes and apparel juggernaut, which expanded to fashion as well.
Knight is the largest individual shareholder of Nike Inc., per Celebrity Net Worth. Moreover, he owns 24 percent of Nike through a family trust called “Swoosh.” Before starting his Nike journey, the University of Oregon graduate started in the shoe-selling business for the Tiger Running Shoes.
He served as a longtime chairman of Nike until 2016. He now sits as the company’s chairman emeritus and non-voting board member. Phil’s son, Travis, is also a major shareholder of the company with 255 million Class A Nike stock via Swoosh LLC, according to Investopedia. The site also revealed other institutional shareholders of Nike such as Vanguard Group, Capital Research & Management Co., SSgA Funds Management, Blackrock Advisors and Wellington Mgmt.
The collaboration with sports icons and celebrities helped push Nike’s popularity in different generations. Among the most notable Nike endorsers in the past were Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Cristiano Ronaldo and Derek Jeter, among others. It has also acquired the Jordan and Converse brands, forming one of the biggest shoe companies in the world in terms of sales and influence in the sneaker culture.
Nike is now earning $39 billion in revenues. But the ongoing pandemic caused massive losses to businesses all over the world. The shoemaker revealed a loss of $790 million for Q4, per Retail Dive. Recently, the company announced layoffs as part of its digital strategy moving forward. Nike will be putting more focus on digital sales as it recorded a 75 percent increase amid COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the 82-year-old billionaire likes to help out whenever he can. He has donated almost $1 billion to two universities: the University of Oregon Health & Science cancer center and Stanford University.