Philip Hampson Knight was born on February 24, 1938, in Portland, Oregon to William W. Knight and Lota. His father was a layer and newspaper publisher.For his education, Philip attended Cleveland High School. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree in 1959.
He served in the army for a year and they pursued an MBA degree at Stanford. Phil Knight is the co-founder of Nike Inc. one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel.
He was named as the ‘Most Powerful Person in Sport’s by Sports Illustrated, although he is neither a sportsman nor the owner of a sports team.
Three Life Changing Events for Philip
Three major events shaped Knight’s future and led him to the ownership of Nike. The first was meeting his back team coach, Bowerman, a legendary track coach and former Olympian.
The second major event was attending Business School at Stanford University. While he worked on his Master’s degree, he came up with the first blueprint for what would eventually become the world’s number one athletic shoe company.
He wrote his term paper on how to start a small sports shoes business and developed a plan to create a cheaper but butter-quality running shoe.
Tiger Running Shoes Brand
The third major event was when he visited Japan which shaped his future brand. He discovered the Tiger running shoe brand distributed by Onitsuka Co. Knight was amazed at how the company created high quality and low-cost shoes.
He reached out to make a distribution deal with the company and convinced them that they had a market in the U.S. The first shipment of the shoes arrived in 1963, and Knight established the company Blue Ribbon Sports with Bowerman.
Both of them invested a few hundred dollars to start their first company. Knight purchased several pairs of Tiger running shoes and began to sell them out of his car at high school track meets throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Struggle Days of Knight
The company struggled in its initial days. Knight needed a regular income, so he continued to work as an accountant. He also taught at Portland State University.
Over the next few years, the opened retail stores in Santa Monica, California and Oregon. The company started to pick up its performance, and by the late 1960s they were generating good profits.
“Nike” The Greek Goddess of Victory
A friend of Knight’s Jeff Johnson suggested the name “Nike”. It was inspired by the Greek goddess of victory. A graphic design student, Carolyn Davidson, designed the “swoosh” logo for them.
In 1972, blue Ribbon launched Nike line. Knight was the first person to use a waffle sole in his products which made the shoes incredibly lightweight.
World’s Best Shoes for Athletes by Knight
To come up with the world’s best athletic shoes, Knight focused on the athletes. As former shoes, Knight focused on the athletes.
As a former athlete, he wanted to design products that the world’s top athletes would love to use. Nike’s model, called the ‘Cortez’ was launched during the 1972 Olympics.
It proved to be a highly profitable design. People saw their favorite sports stars wearing Nike which development a buzz around the brand. In 1980, Nike became the leading athletic shoe brand.
Due to the success of Nike, many famous sports-persons actively started to promote the brand. This list included the likes of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.
In 1986, Nike’s total sales were in billions of dollars. Nike outdid Adidas to become the number one shoemaker worldwide.
Hired First Black Board Member
In 1990, Knight was criticized for not having a black president or any black board member I the company. Knight soon hired the first black board member. However, he was also criticized by human rights activists.
He was accused of unfair treatment towards Asian workers who were paid meager wages. In the midst of all the negative publicity, Nike sales remained strong.
Other Sports Branches
Knight also branched out into hockey, golf, and soccer clothing. Features like Nike’s “Just Do It” tag line and mages of Michael Jordan jumping in the air, made Nike the top brand in the industry.
Participates For Charitable Work
Knight also actively participates in charitable work to help the society. He donated millions, one of the largest individual donations, to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2008, he donated to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.