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Nike: The Greek Goddess Who Inspired Most Popular Sports Brand in the World

Nike the Greek goddess of victory
The Greek goddess Nike. Vienna museum. Credit: Manfred Werner / Tsui / CC by-sa 4.0

Nike is one of the most popular and recognized sports brands in the world. Have you ever wondered what the story is behind the company’s name? The name did not simply appear suddenly a few years ago in the United States, but in Greece, thousands of years ago, when Nike was known as a Greek goddess.

Nike, today one of the most recognizable brands globally, was inspired by Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.

Even Nike’s iconic logo, the popular “Swoosh,” dates back to the history of the Greek gods.

Inspiration for Nike: passion for athletics

The history of Nike began a few decades ago in the 1950s on the running track of the University of Oregon. The coach, Billl Bowerman, was looking for ways to give his athletes competitive advantages. He tested hydration, clothing, diet, track surfaces and, of course, their footwear.

One of these athletes that Bowerman trained was Phil Knight, who also wrote stories for the university newspaper, later graduating in journalism. He then obtained an MBA at Stanford.

Knight, driven by the glory years of Oregon’s storied running program and his lifelong passion for athletics, began submitting proposals to shoe manufacturers in Japan.

A few months later, his former coach, Bill Bowerman would become his partner, when they formed the company “Blue Ribbon Sports.” It distributed the shoes of the Japanese manufacturer until the 1970s, when they decided to take the leap and go from distributors to manufacturers themselves.

Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman
Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Public domain

Everything was primed for Blue Ribbon Sports to take the next step but they didn’t have a name for their shoes yet.

It was Jeff Johnson, a marketing worker for the company, who had heard that a good logo should have two syllables and a memorable letter. Five hours before sending the papers, Johson woke up with “Nike,” the name of the Greek goddess of victory in his head.

Knight didn’t like it at first, but it was just  a matter of time.

The “swoosh”: a Nike wing

Nike wing
Inspiration for the Nike “swoosh” comes from the goddess’ wings. Public domain illustration.

In 1971 Knight and Bowerman paid $35 to Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at  Portland University. Known as “swoosh” it represents a wing of the Greek goddess Niké.

In the year 1972, Nike made its official debut on the athletic tracks in tests in Eugene, Oregon. During the test the shoe with a waffle iron-inspired sole that improved traction with the ground more than other designs caught everyone’s attention.

Today Nike has become one of the most popular sports brands in the world, athletes of different modalities wear Nike.

It has also released other lines of clothing and accessories for athletes from around the world and all cultures.

Nike: the Greek goddess of victory

According to Greek mythology Nike was the daughter of the goddess Styx and the titan Pallas; some stories say that she was the daughter of Mars, the god of war.

He is represented as a small figure in the hand of gods like Zeus and Athena, his ally. He presided over athletic competitions and military disputes, symbolizing his victories.

Since the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928, the gold, silver and bronze medals have had on the obverse the image of Nike with a laurel wreath.

tokyo Medals
Tokyo medals for 2020/2021

This year, however, the Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals feature Nike, the Greek goddess of victory as the main image.

New Nike-inspired Air Force 1 Low

Nike did not take long to pay tribute to the goddess from whom it derives its name. It has been celebrating her for some time, but this time the company decided to praise her and launch a special edition with its famous Air Force 1 Low, but slightly modified, in honor of the Greek goddess of victory.

In the edition, these Air Force 1 Lows have a beautiful design that combines textures; the mesh tongue support reflects the wings of the goddess. Below is an image of the design that will be on the market soon.

Nike Air Force 1 low
Nike Force 1 Low inspired by the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. Credit: Sneaker News

 

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