Nike is inarguably one of the biggest sportswear brands on the planet. You may well have worn one or two of their clothing staples over the years! Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, Nike has continued to emerge as a brand that millions of people recognize virtually anywhere on earth. But how much do we really know about that iconic tick logo and their fantastic apparel? Take a look below for 30 interesting and amazing facts about Nike.
1. Let’s get this out of the way first – how do you pronounce ‘Nike’? Some believe it rhymes with ‘bike’ or ‘like’, but it actually rhymes with ‘spiky’ – you say it ‘ny-kee’.
2. Nike’s name is something that has fascinated millions of people. It’s thought to derive from the Greek legend of the same name, depicted as the personification of victory. A woman with wings, Nike was seen as a companion to Zeus, the elder God in Greek legend.
3. Beyond this, however, the jury is out in terms of the actual meaning of the word ‘Nike’. It’s thought to have several different meanings and connotations across languages and tongues throughout the world. Many believe it relates most of all to the concept of ‘attack’.
4. Nike employs more than 70,000 people worldwide, from sales and marketing to manufacturing and design.
5. The brand first started life back in 1964 and was originally known as the very different ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’. It wasn’t until 1971 that the brand changed its name to Nike – and the rest, as they say, is history. However, that’d make for a pretty short fact file – so let’s keep digging!
6. The brand and company witnessed an incredible amount of corporate growth in just their first few years of trading. In fact, by the end of the first year’s trading, Nike claimed around $8,000 in revenue.
7. This grew to such an extent that Nike, or Blue Ribbon Sports, was able to open up its first physical store in its third year. That’s an incredible ascent for a home-grown, car-boot-sales operation!
8. Nike has an enormous headquarters and estate built into the backyard of Beaverton, Oregon. It’s home to a variety of fields and waterways as well as buildings. In fact, you’ll find that many of the HQ’s fields and offices are named after famous sports stars. These are as diverse as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, John McEnroe and Cristiano Ronaldo.
9. While Nike’s home is firmly based in Oregon, its biggest store worldwide is in London. Visitors can explore up to three floors of apparel and sportswear, and the building takes up to 42,000 square feet in space!
10. While Nike is best-known for its shoes and sneakers, the first product to ever feature the iconic logo and branding was a football cleat!
11. Millions of people recognise the famous Nike slogan, ‘Just Do It’. This was created by the ad agency at Wieden+Kennedy. However, it’s said to have a bit of a grim backstory. Legend tells it that the slogan was inspired by the last words of executed murderer Gary Gilmore.
12. It’s thought that Nike sells around 900 million separate items from their catalogue each and every year. However, it’s not just clothes. The company also designs and provides footwear, sports equipment and more besides. If it has anything to do with sport and leisure, there is a good chance that Nike produces their own version of it!
13. Nike is one of the first sportswear and apparel companies on the planet to embrace smart clothing. This means that some of their apparel can communicate with smartphones and tablets! In particular, the company has a patent for a shoe which has a communication device embedded.
14. Nike has received hundreds of endorsements over the years from some of the world’s top athletes and sportspeople. However, did you know that the first to publicly endorse the brand was a tennis star? Specifically, it was court star Ilie Nastase, who first partnered with the company in 1972.
15. This endorsement may well have been trial and error for the company, as Nastase went on to be known for her playing temperament, facing a variety of fines and disqualifications during her career.
16. Nike used to predominantly make all of its shoes and apparel in the US. However, it now has factories all over the world, with many out in the East in territories such as Vietnam.
17. Nike was the first brand of any kind to use a Beatles song as part of a TV ad campaign. They used ‘Revolution No 9’ in an ad in 1978. A further song they used was ‘Revolution’, a 1968 hit which Nike used for their running shoes campaign in the mid to late 80s.
18. However, lawyers representing the brand actually took Nike to task over this, despite the fact that the company had actually cleared a fee of $250,000 to North American rightsholders. It was Apple Records, and the Beatles themselves, who launched the suit. It was settled out of court.
19. The late George Harrison in particular found Nike’s move to be distasteful. “Every Beatles song is going to be advertising women’s underwear and sausages,” he commented. “We’ve got to put a stop to it in order to set a precedent.” However, Yoko Ono would later allow use of the John Lennon song ‘Instant Karma’ in a Nike ad in 1988.
20. Nike has also designed a handful of iconic movie props. In particular, Marty McFly’s hoverboarding sneakers from Back To The Future Part II were the work of Nike’s designers and manufacturers.
21. It’s thought that Michael Jordan received a $5,000 fine in every NBA game in which he wore Air Jordan sneakers, as a result of the shoes breaking certain league policies. However, as the star went on to make more than $90 million in one year from royalties, it’s likely the fines didn’t even scratch the surface.
22. Nike is seen as something of an innovator in sportswear. However, even a brand this large has experienced a few flops. One, in particular, was their 1991 line of golf shorts in acid wash denim – we can’t say we’d see Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy setting any trends in those!
23. The company is also famous for being a huge recycler. They are well-known for taking old shoes and sneakers and re-using them to create children’s playgrounds. Therefore, it is always worthwhile giving old shoes back to the manufacturer instead of just throwing them away.
24. Nike offers many fitness aids and classes for free across the world. Not only is it possible for fans and active people to take part in free classes in their local cities, the company is known for producing free apps to help you get fit.
25. The company owns a handful of other sportswear and apparel brands. For example, they are the parent company of Converse, a popular leisurewear line known for their iconic sneakers and shows. They also own Hurley, under their Nike Surfing line.
26. In fact, Converse as a company went bankrupt in 2001, prompting Nike to purchase the company and iconic line in 2003.
27. Nike is actually an Emmy-award winner. In fact, they’ve received two awards for their famous TV ads in the past 20 years.
28. While Nike has endorsed many people over the years, they’ve also been turned down on occasion. Alternative British band Chumbawamba, most famous for their international hit ‘Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down)’, turned down a deal worth $1.5 million for their biggest song to feature in a Nike ad tying in with the FIFA World Cup.
29. The company’s logo is perhaps one of the world’s most recognizable. However, it only cost $35 to commission. The designer went on to receive over $640,000 for her iconic ‘tick’ or ‘swoosh’ design!
30. Nike has a strong partnership with the University of Oregon, in that the company still designs and manufactures the apparel and sportswear worn by the college football team. They’ve also donated millions of dollars over the years to help renovate and maintain track and field facilities there. Never forget where you come from!