Nike’s heart and sole

by | Jun 20, 2020

(Photo courtesy

A well-worn pair of white waffle spike shoes that were handmade in the early 1970s are expected to sell for up to $150,000 at auction. If that price tag seems high, that’s because these are no ordinary running shoes.

The sneakers are the first-ever shoes created by Bill Bowerman, Nike co-founder and legendary track coach at the University of Oregon. Bowerman crafted the white “waffle spike” shoes especially for John Mays, one of the runners on his track team.

  • Fun fact: Bowerman invented the design after he was inspired by his wife’s waffle iron

“Often times, Bill would talk to me about a new company he was involved with. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time,” Mays said in a statement. “One day, he asked me to help test a new sprint spike shoe he was designing. Of course, I agreed and was excited to be chosen. He took measurements of my feet and started building the shoe, and in about a week he had the shoes ready for me.”

Bowerman partnered with Phil Knight in 1964 to start Blue Ribbon Sports. They renamed the company Nike in 1971. The reason these shoes are so valuable is because they still serve as the original template and first major innovation for the company. In fact, Nike still uses that waffle design today.

“We felt the only appropriate way to follow up a sale of that magnitude was to offer something special that spoke to the history and legacy of Nike,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Director of eCommerce Development. Bidding began Wednesday and goes through June 26. If you want to place a bid, Just do it.

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