The Greek goddess who inspired the world’s most popular sports brand

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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 behind the company name is? The name didn’t just suddenly appear a few years ago in the United States, but in Greece thousands of years ago when Nike was known as a Greek goddess.

Nike, now one of the most recognizable brands in the world, was inspired by Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.

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

Inspiration for Nike: passion for athletics

Nike’s story began decades ago in the 1950s on the University of Oregon athletics track. Coach Billl Bowerman was looking for ways to give his athletes competitive advantages. He tested hydration, clothing, nutrition, track surfaces and, of course, their shoes.

One such athlete Bowerman coached was Phil Knight, who also wrote articles for the college newspaper, later a journalism graduate. He then earned an MBA from Stanford.

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

A few months later, his former trainer, Bill Bowerman would become his partner when they formed the company “Blue Ribbon Sports”. She distributed the Japanese manufacturer’s shoes until the 1970s, when they decided to take the plunge and move from distributors to manufacturers themselves.

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

Everything was ready 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 employee at the company, who 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 only a matter of time.

The “swoosh”: a Nike wing

Nike wing
The inspiration for the Nike “swoosh” comes from the wings of the goddess. Public domain illustration.

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

In 1972, Nike made its official track debut at trials in Eugene, Oregon. During the test, the shoe with a waffle iron-inspired sole that improved traction with the ground more than other models caught everyone’s attention.

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

She has also launched other lines of clothing and accessories for athletes around the world and in 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 she was the daughter of Mars, the god of war.

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

Since the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928, the gold, silver and bronze medals bear 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 Air Force 1 Low inspired by Nike

Nike was quick to pay homage to the goddess from whom it takes its name. She’s been celebrating her for a while, but this time the company decided to give her a shout out and launch a special edition with her famous, but slightly modified Air Force 1 Low in honor of the Greek Goddess of Victoire.

In the edit, 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 hit 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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