Phil Knight - The Journey of Nike Visionary

Phil Knight - The Journey of Nike Visionary
Phil Knight Success Story

Apparels appeal to everyone. Be it clothes from Zara, jeans by Wrangler, or shoes from Converse, you have got a huge range to select from. But the youths from the early 80’s will never forget how crazy they were after Jordans. Yes, the same basketball shoe line that was produced by Nike. 

As intriguing the story behind Air Jordan is, so is the tale of a co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight. The legend goes back decades and the honor still lives on. Phil Knight, the name that shines in the sports industry, along with his brand has covered several segments in the aforementioned market. 

Besides being the co-founder of Nike, the largest athletic brand, Knight has several more qualities that would grab ears. Knight is a published author and also a philanthropist, who co-founded his company with Bill Bowerman, his former track coach from the University of Oregon. 

Don't just get all hyped up now, this article has a lot to talk about. Here’s all you need to know about the emeritus of Nike, Philip Hampson Knight. 

How Phil Knight Grew Nike Into A Multibillion-Dollar Company And Became A Billionaire In The Process

Phil Knight - Biography

Name Phil Knight
Birthplace Portland, Oregon
Born February 24, 1938
Nationality American
Education BBA (University of Oregon), MBA (Stanford University)
Position Co-founder, Nike, Inc.
Net worth $40.7 billion

Phil Knight - Early Life
Phil Knight - Career
Phil Knight - Personal Life
Phil Knight - Nike
Phil Knight - Journey So Far!
Phil Knight - Philanthropy
Phil Knight - Awards and Recognition
Phil Knight - Unknown Facts / Interesting Facts
Phil Knight - Quote

Phil Knight - Early Life

Born in Portland, Oregon on February 24, 1938, Phil is the son of Bill and Lota Clloy Knight. His father Bill, was an American lawyer who later switched to being a newspaper publisher.

His early childhood was spent in the neighborhood of Eastmoreland, Portland, while Knight attended Cleveland High School for his early studies. For further studies, Phil Knight went to the University of Oregon in Eugene and completed his BBA in 1959. 

Entering the university, pushed him into preparing for a greater future. Knight participated in the well-known Oregon track and field program and became a sports journalist for the company called Oregon Daily Emerald, all while also being a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. 

Phil Knight - Career

During the early days, upon entering his career life, Phil Knight worked as a public accountant with Coopers & Lybrand. He later switched his company and started working with Price Waterhouse in the same designation. Soon, Phil became an accounting professor at the Portland State University. 

Phil Knight has even served a year in the Army on active duty, and seven years in the Army Reserve. 

After completing his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, he took a trip to Japan and secured distribution rights to Tiger brand running shoes for the western United States. For a year, until the first shoe samples arrived in the USA, Knight again worked as an accountant in Portland. 

Upon receiving the shoes, Knight shipped two samples to his coach Bill Bowerman, with the hope of endorsement. In 1964, Bowerman who was impressed by the quality of these Japanese shoes, offered Knight to become a partner for Blue Ribbon Sports, now known as Nike

Phil Knight - Personal Life

It was in the September of 1968 when Phil Knight married his wife Penelope Parks. The couple had met during the days when Phil was working at Portland State University. Together the couple have two children, Matthew and Travis. 

Phil owns a home in La Quinta, California. He calls the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, as his home address on the government records, though he stays in the house just outside Hillsboro. 

Phil Knight also owns two private jets and a personal flight hangar at the Hillsboro Airport. 

A serious tragedy hit the Knights in 2004 when beloved Matthew died during a scuba diving accident in El Salvador. Matthew was the eldest son of Phil and Penelope. 

Brand Value of the Sports Company Nike Worldwide From 2016 to 2024
Brand Value of the Sports Company Nike Worldwide From 2016 to 2024

Phil Knight - Nike

Nike has gained a revenue of nearly USD 45 billion, today. But even the legendary sports brand had to start from dog days. 

Originally named Blue Ribbon Sports, (BRS) Nike was founded on January 25, 1964. BRS at that time worked as the distributor of Japanese Tiger brand shoes and was operated from Eugene, Oregon. Phil Knight made his first sales from his car at track meets across the Pacific Northwest. 

In the year 1971, on May 30, Blue Ribbon Sports was officially renamed Nike. The name was suggested by Jeff Johnson, who was the first employee of Nike. Johnson came up with this name as it depicts the name of a Greek goddess of victory. 

The same year, Nike also had its swoosh logo ready by its side. The logo was designed by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student. Davidson had charged USD 35 for his efforts and the logo. 

Although Nike markets products under its name, it even has covered the sports market with the brand names of Nike Golf, Nike Pro, Air Force 1, Nike Dunk, Air Max, Nike CR7, and more. It has subsidiaries that include Air Jordan and has also introduced widely appreciated designs, such as Jordan itself and Converse. 

Throughout the years, Nike has owned many brands including Umbro, Cole Haan, Bauer Hockey, and Hurley International. 

Nike Success Story - Founder, Business Model, Revenue Model and More
Nike is an American footwear company founded by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Know more about its business model, revenue model and more.

Phil Knight - Journey So Far!

In 2016, Phil Knight stepped down from being Nike’s chairman and was succeeded by then-president and CEO Mark Parker. 

Besides Nike, Knight owns Will Vinton Studios, currently known as Laika. Laika Studio released its first feature film, in 2009 which was a stop-motion movie, Coraline.   

Phil Knight - Philanthropy

Phil Knight has donated over USD 1 billion to charity. Speaking of it, Knight has donated USD 500 million to the University of Oregon Health & Science Cancer Center. Similarly, he donated USD 400 million to Stanford University for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars graduate-level education program. 

Phil Knight also donated USD 105 million to the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Phil Knight - Awards and Recognition

  • In 1989 he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.
  • Phil Knight was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, for his Special Contribution to Sports in Oregon. 
  • On September 7, 2012, Phil was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as a contributor. The Hall even recognized him as the driving force behind Nike’s financial support towards US basketball and its players. 
  • 2015 was the year when Phil was elected to the 2015 American Academy of Arts and Sciences membership class for his contributions to business, corporate, and philanthropic leadership. 
  • Knight was then amongst the four UO alumni chosen to be on a notional Mount Rushmore for the university in 2020.  

Phil Knight - Unknown Facts / Interesting Facts

Phil Knight has published his memoir Shoe Dog in 2016. This book spoke about the struggles and story of Nike while growing to become a multinational sportswear and sports equipment company. In his memoir, Knight even wrote his views on life and how it was changed following his entrepreneurial years. 

Phil Knight was a middle-distance runner at Oregon and had his personal best of 1 mile (1.6 km) in 4 minutes, 13 seconds. The philanthropist has even won varsity letters for his track performances in 1957, 1958, and 1959.

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Phil Knight - Quote

When you really understand who you are, it enables you to fight and believe. -Phil Knight


Who is Phil Knight?

Phil Knight is the co-founder of Nike Inc. 

Who is the current CEO of Nike?

John Donahoe has been the CEO of Nike since 2020.

What does Nike mean?

The name was suggested by Jeff Johnson, who was the first employee of Nike. Johnson came up with this name as it depicts the name of a Greek goddess of victory. 

When was Nike founded?

Nike was founded on January 25, 1964.

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