Knight, Phil

Phil Knight. (Tim Tomkinson)

Cofounder of athletic-shoe company Nike, born in 1938 in Portland, Oregon. Knight ran under famed track coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon, where Knight was a guinea pig for some of the coach’s homegrown footwear designs. (See Bowerman, Bill.) Later, Knight enrolled in Stanford’s business school and worked on a plan to sell Japanese running shoes. Knight formed Blue Ribbon Sports with Bowerman to execute his concept, securing a contract with Onitsuka Tiger. Soon the duo began marketing Bowerman’s creations under the Nike name, introducing the Waffle Racer at the 1972 Olympic trials and signing Steve Prefontaine to wear them in 1974. Nike was recently ranked the most valuable apparel brand in the world.

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