30 Mind-Blowing Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Phil Knight


Phil Knight, the co-founder and current Chairman Emeritus of Nike, Inc., is a noted philanthropist who is known to have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to his two Alma Maters and the Oregon Health and Science University. Here are some interesting facts to know about the American business magnate:

  1. He is the co-founder and current Chairman Emeritus of Nike Inc. Before this, he previously served as chairman and CEO of the company.
  2. It is actually the Tiger-brand running shoes manufactured in Kobe, Japan by the Onitsuka Co that inspired Knight and his coach Bowerman to start Blue Ribbon Sports, later changed into Nike.
  3. The company BRS was formed with just a partnership by handshake between Knight and Bowerman, who would provide product designs, on January 25, 1964.
  4. Matthew Knight Arena, the UO basketball team's facility, constructed in the year 2010, was actually a result of partnership between Knight and former Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny, and that he established a $100 million "Athletic Legacy Fund."
  5. Philip Hampson "Buck" Knight was born on February 24, 1938, in Portland, Oregon, to Bill Knight and Lota (Hatfield) Knight. His father was a lawyer who later became a newspaper publisher.
  6. He grew up in the Eastmoreland neighborhood of Portland and studied at the Cleveland High School. For his summer job, he had to go to his father's newspaper's rival Oregonion, as his father believed that he has to find a job by himself.
  7. During his summer job at Oregonion, he worked the night shift tabulating sports scores and reportedly ran back home, the entire seven miles.
  8. He attended the University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene, where he graduated with a journalism degree in 1959, and also was a sports reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald. At UO, he is a graduate brother of Phi Gamma Delta ("FIJI") fraternity.
  9. He was also a middle-distance runner at UO, with a personal best of 1 mile (1.6 km) in 4 minutes, 10 seconds. He has also won varsity letters for his track performances in 1957, 1958 and 1959.
  10. Knight along with Bill Bowerman and Geoff Hollister, founded an American running team called Athletics West, in the year 1977.
  11. Following his graduation from UO, he enlisted in the Army and served one year on active duty and seven years in the Army Reserve.
  12. He went to Stanford Graduate School of Business, after his year of active duty at Army, where he graduated with a master's degree in business administration in the year 1962.
  13. It was for his business class, that he wrote a paper "Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?," which premised his eventual foray into selling running shoes.
  14. Impressed with the quality of Tiger-brand running shoes, Knight met with Mr. Onitsuka in November 1962, and secured Tiger distribution rights for the western United States.
  15. The very first sales of the Blue Ribbon Sports were made out of a now legendary green Plymouth Valiant automobile at track meets across the Pacific Northwest.
  16. Before starting the Blue Ribbon Sports, he was a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), firstly with Coopers & Lybrand, and then Price Waterhouse. He was also an accounting professor at Portland State University. However, by the year 1969, he left is accountant job and concentrated fully on BRS.
  17. The swoosh logo of Nike, was designed by graphic design student Carolyn Davidson for a mere US $35, at the time of renaming. Though Knight never loved the logo, it was reported that he gave Davidson an undisclosed amount of Nike stock for her contribution in September 1983.
  18. In the late 1990s, he assumed a 15 percent stake of the Will Vinton Studios and assumed control of the company's board with the cooperation of Nike executives.
  19. In the year 2003, Knight appointed his son Travis Knight to the board and rebranded the company as Laika, at the same time when Will Vinton stepped down from the board. In 2009, he promoted Travis into the roles of Laika CEO and President.
  20. It was the very first employee of Nike - Jeff Johnson, who suggested the name Nike, after the Greek winged goddess of victory. Blue Ribbon Sports was renamed as Nike in the year 1971.
  21. On November 18, 2004, Knight resigned as the CEO of Nike, several months after his son Matthew Knight died due to heart attack while scuba diving with colleagues in Lake Ilopango, near San Salvador, but retained the position of chairman of the board.
  22. During the 2009-2010 period, he was the largest single contributor to the campaign to defeat Oregon Ballot Measures 66 and 67, which increased income tax on some corporations and high-income individuals.
  23. In the year 2006, Knight donated US$105 million to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which was at the time, the largest ever individual donation to a U.S. business school and the campus was named "The Knight Management Center," in honor of Knight's philanthropic service to the school.
  24. His memoir "Shoe Dog" was released on April 26, 2016 by Simon & Schuster, which was rated fifth on The New York Times Best Seller list for business books in July 2018.
  25. In the fall of 2016, it was announced that Knight will donate $500 million to University of Oregon for a new three-building laboratory and research science complex, as a part of a series of large higher-education gifts.
  26. Knight met his wife, Penelope "Penny" Parks, while he was working at Portland State University and married on September 13, 1968. The pair own a home in La Quinta, California.
  27. Knight and his wife pledged US$100 million to the OHSU Cancer Institute, the largest gift in the history of Oregon Health & Science University, in October 2008, and in recognition the organization was renamed as "OHSU Knight Cancer Institute."
  28. In the year 2016, it was announced that Knight contributed $400 million to start the Knight-Hennessy Scholars graduate-level education program.
  29. Knight and wife Penny also donated to the Marylhurst Knights Opportunity Scholarship Program at Marylhurst University, and a lawn on their campus "Knight's Green" in the family's honor.
  30. Knight was announced as a 2012 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor on February 2, 2012, as the hall recognized him as the driving force behind Nike's huge financial support of U.S. basketball and its players.
  31. Phil Knight Net Worth: $31.1 Billion

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