A pair of battered looking track and field spikes – handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman – featuring a “prototype logo” could fetch $1.2 million at auction, according to Sotheby’s.
“This rare pair of track spikes made in the 1960s and modified in the early 70s represents an important chapter in the origins of the Nike brand,” said Sotheby’s in a statement.
The shoes were originally made for Canadian track and field sprinter and Olympian, Harry Jerome.
“The present pair features the use of four prototype logos, which show Bill [Bowerman] experimenting with the concept of a brand, and happen to bear a remarkable resemblance to the Nike Swoosh,” added the Sotheby’s statement
Jerome set a total of seven world records over the course of his career, and won a bronze medal at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“The shoes feature Waffle soles under each set of track spikes – the first notable innovation introduced by Nike when they premiered the Nike Moon Shoe at the 1972 Olympic Trials,” said Sotheby’s.
“Very few pairs are known to exist, one of which is held at the Special Collections and University Archives of the Knight Library at the University of Oregon.”
The sole design came in a lightbulb moment of inspiration for Bowerman at a breakfast table in Fossil, Oregon.
In 1964, then University of Oregon track-and-field coach Bowerman and one of his former athletes, Phil Knight, founded Blue Ribbon Sports.
For months Bowerman watched his athletes’ metal cleats tear up the school’s new track. He wondered if there was a shoe that could provide traction in bad weather without spikes.
One Sunday morning in 1971, he and his wife were having waffles at breakfast when the solution finally came to him – and the waffle sole was born.
In 1978, Blue Ribbon Sports changed its name to Nike, Inc. Soon after, the company launched a clothing line and signed Michael Jordan to an endorsement deal.
The auction will also feature pair of Converse Fastbreak sneakers worn by NBA great Jordan during the 1984 Olympic Trials – estimated to fetch up $100,000 – and track and field star Michael Johnson’s “Golden Shoes.”
Online bidding will start on July 23 – the day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics’ Opening Ceremony – on Sothebys.com.