Philip Hampson Knight is the founder and largest shareholder of Nike, the world’s biggest maker of athletic shoes and sports apparel. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company operates more than 1,100 stores and had revenue of $46.7 billion in the year to May 2022. The business’s range of brands includes Converse and Jordan.
Knight is the founder of Nike, the world’s biggest maker of athletic shoes and sports apparel with more than 1,000 stores worldwide, according to its 2022 annual report. Knight and his family controls about a fifth of the company’s shares but effectively control the business, according to Bloomberg’s analysis of regulatory filings.
Knight and his family own about 234 million shares through holding company Swoosh, according to a July 2022 proxy filing. Philip Knight owns a further 30 million shares in his own name, according to the same proxy filing and a January 2023 filing. His son Travis Knight has about 41 million shares through a trust and its subsidiary.
Shares held by Swoosh and family members are credited to Philip Knight in Bloomberg’s analysis to reflect his status as founder and family patriarch. He’s still deemed to be the owner for tax purposes, according to Nike spokesman Greg Rossiter. Nike’s Class A shares don’t trade and are convertible to B shares on a one-to-one basis. Shares held by Knight’s charitable foundation are excluded.
He’s collected billions of dollars from dividends and the sale of Nike stock, based on an analysis of Bloomberg data. The value of his cash investments is based on these proceeds, as well as taxes, market performance and charitable donations, which include $400 million to Stanford University in February 2016.
Rossiter declined to comment on the calculation of Knight’s net worth.
Education: Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of Oregon
Born in Portland, Oregon, to a lawyer-turned-newspaper publisher, Knight enrolled at the University of Oregon in 1955, where he was a member of the college track team. After graduating with a master’s of business administration from Stanford Business School, Knight traveled around the world for a year.
He created athletic footwear distributor Blue Ribbon Sports with his former college track coach, Bill Bowerman, in 1964 and continued to work as an assistant professor at Portland State University and as an accountant. He started selling sneakers at weekend track meets from the back of his green Plymouth Valiant and dedicated himself full time to his shoe business in 1968.
The billionaire changed the company’s name to Nike in 1972. He sold shares in a public offering eight years later. Nike became the most popular sports apparel brand in the world over the next couple of decades by capitalizing on the influence top athletes began to have on popular culture. The company signed star athletes — Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Tiger Woods — and helped create brands around each of them to market its fashionable shoes and other sportswear. Knight stepped down as Nike’s chief executive officer in 2004 and as chairman in 2016.
He has donated $500 million for cancer research to the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, $400 million to Stanford University for graduate scholarships and $1 billion to the University of Oregon in Eugene for a science research center.
Knight is married, and his second son Travis is a Nike board member. His eldest son Matthew died in 2004.
- 1938 Born in Portland to William and Lola Knight.
- 1964 Starts Blue Ribbon Sports with his former college track coach.
- 1971 Buys swoosh logo for $35 from design student Carolyn Davidson.
- 1972 Blue Ribbon Sports is renamed Nike.
- 1980 Nike sells shares in an initial public offering.
- 1984 Signs Michael Jordan to an endorsement contract.
- 1988 “Just do it” slogan is written by ad agency Wieden & Kennedy.
- 2016 Steps down as chairman of Nike.