A pair of early 1970’s Nike Waffle spike shoes, handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, is heading for auction at Sotheby’s. The shoes were exclusively made for and worn by the University of Oregon track athlete John Mays in the early ’70s.
The track spikes are believed to be the first-ever shoes handmade by Bowerman to appear at auction. Sotheby’s estimates that the shoes —which will be sold as part of a bundle that also includes a handwritten letter outlining Bowerman’s design and production process — will fetch between $130,000 and $150,000.
Only a handful of Bowerman’s early waffle spikes still exist. This pair has remained in May’s possession since he ran in them for the University of Oregon. Another pair is in the Special Collections and University Archives of the Knight Library at the University of Oregon.
Phil Knight and Bowerman teamed up to start Blue Ribbon Sports, which would later become Nike, in the mid ’60s. The spike runner was created in the early ’70s, when Nike was still Blue Ribbon Sports, but was reworked with the waffle sole in 1974 after the formation of Nike.
Iconic sneakers have been fetching high sums at auctions recently, with a game-worn pair of Michael Jordan’s Nike Air Jordan 1s from 1985 going for $560,000 at auction last month — a world record fee spent on sneakers.
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