Phil Knight’s name is synonymous with one of the world’s most iconic brands, Nike. From its humble beginnings in the trunk of a car to its ascent as a global behemoth, Knight’s journey is the stuff of entrepreneurial legend. Here, we break down the frequently asked questions about Phil Knight, giving you a detailed overview of his illustrious career.
Who is Phil Knight?
Phil Knight was born February 24 in Portland, Oregon and is best known as the founder of Nike Inc. His early education took place in Portland’s Eastmoreland neighborhood where he attended Cleveland High School before enrolling at University of Oregon for further studies. There, his time was punctuated by involvement with Phi Gamma Delta fraternity; writing sports reports for campus newspaper; and participating as middle-distance runner. After obtaining his journalism degree in 1959, he delved into further studies and several roles before kickstarting the brand we know today as Nike.
How did Phil Knight start Nike?
The inception of Nike can be traced back to Knight’s post-graduate trip to Kobe, Japan. Here, he stumbled upon Onitsuka Co.’s Tiger brand running shoes, captivated by their quality and affordability. A meeting with Mr. Onitsuka resulted in Knight acquiring distribution rights for the shoes in the western U.S. This marked the birth of Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) on January 25, 1964, a precursor to Nike. With a green Plymouth Valiant as his mobile store, Knight sold these shoes at various track events. However, it was the rebranding of the company as Nike, coupled with the iconic “swoosh” logo in 1971, that set the stage for its meteoric rise.
What is the connection between Phil Knight and Laika?
Beyond Nike, Knight’s influence extended to the animation realm through Laika Studios. Originally investing in the struggling Will Vinton Studios in the late ’90s, Knight eventually took ownership and rebranded it as Laika in 2003. Under this banner, Laika produced the critically acclaimed “Coraline” in 2009, with Travis Knight, Phil’s son, at the helm as CEO and president.
How has Phil Knight contributed to philanthropy?
Knight’s generosity exceeds his business endeavors, with charitable contributions totaling over $1 billion. His most significant donations include $500 million to the University of Oregon Health & Science cancer center, $400 million to Stanford University for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, and $105 million to Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. These acts of largesse mirror his unwavering commitment to education and healthcare.
What is Phil Knight’s personal life like?
Phil Knight’s personal life is defined by his longstanding marriage to Penelope “Penny” Parks since 1963 and their three children Matthew, Travis, and Christina. Unfortunately, however, their journey has seen its share of tragedies; including Matthew’s passing away in 2004. Despite their grief, the Knights have remained ardent supporters of various causes, especially the University of Oregon’s athletic fund. Their extensive contributions have seen multiple institutions named in their family’s honor, with the Matthew Knight Arena standing as a touching tribute to their late son.
How does Phil Knight’s net worth break down?
Knight’s staggering $40 billion net worth stems primarily from his association with Nike. He controls 24% of the company, with shares held through the Delaware-based holding entity, “Swoosh”. While his son Travis owns 10% of Swoosh, the shares are attributed to Phil. Additionally, Nike’s ownership of lucrative brands such as Converse and Jordan further amplifies Knight’s financial standing.
Phil Knight’s story isn’t one of financial success alone; instead it speaks volumes of passion, resilience, innovation and pursuit of excellence. His influence over sportswear, culture and philanthropy remains profound worldwide – making him a true icon in business as well as beyond.