Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight's Net Worth Makes Him One of World's Wealthiest
Phil Knight's net worth makes him the 25th richest person in the world. What's his net worth and how did he make billions during his career?
Nike billionaire Phi Knight is one of the most notable philanthropists in the U.S. In April, Knight and his wife, Penny, pledged $400 million to help Black residents in the Albina neighborhood of his hometown of Portland.
Knight co-founded Nike and had a very successful career. What's his net worth after starting and working for one of the most recognized athletic apparel companies in the world? Keep reading for all the details.
Net worth: $46.6 Billion
Phil Knight co-founded Nike with his former college track coach Bill Bowerman. He started out selling athletic shoes out of his car at track meets. In 2023, the billion-dollar company is the world's largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel. Knight continues to own a majority stake in the company.
Wife: Penny Knight
Children: Matthew (deceased), Travis, and Christina
How did Phil Knight create Nike?
Knight co-founded Nike, originally Blue Ribbon Sports, with his former college track coach Bill Bowerman in 1964. After growing up in the Portland area, Knight attended college at the University of Oregon, where he met Bowerman, who was his track and field coach.
In college, Knight was a middle-distance runner and a guinea pig tester of shoes Bowerman self-made to help runners speed up their runs.
“He believed that shaving an ounce off a pair of shoes for a guy running a mile could make a big difference. So Bowerman began making shoes himself, and since I wasn't the best guy on the team, I was the logical one to test the shoes," Knight told the Standford alumni magazine in 1997.
After graduating from the University of Oregon, Knight served in the Army and Army Reserve and attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business. It was at Stanford where the origins of Nike first started to percolate in Knight’s mind. In one of his classes, he was tasked with inventing a new business and creating its purpose and marketing plan.
As part of the class assignment, Knight penned a report titled, “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did for German Cameras?”
Upon graduating from Stanford, Knight took a trip to Japan, where he visited the Onitsuka Co. shoe factory, which manufactured the Tiger brand running shoes. He made a deal with the company to distribute the shoes in the U.S.
One of Knight’s first customers was his old track coach Bowerman. But Bowerman wanted more than a few pairs of shoes, he wanted part of the action. On Jan. 25, 1964, the two formed their partnership, Blue Ribbon Sports, the predecessor of Nike.
At the onset of the business, Knight visited track meets around the Pacific Northwest and sold athletic shoes to runners out of his green Plymouth Valiant car. In 1971, the company changed its name to Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory, Business Insider reports.
Does Phil Knight still own Nike?
Knight officially retired from Nike in 2016. He is still the majority stakeholder in the company, and he created the limited liability company Swoosh to hold his Nike shares and $13.9 billion of Nike stock, People reports.
According to Forbes, Knight is the 25th wealthiest person in the world. Knight’s net worth as of May 12, 2023, was $46.6 billion.
What happened to Phil Knight’s son?
Knight and his wife Penny married in 1968, and the couple had three children — Travis, Matthew, and Christina. In 2004, Matthew died in a scuba diving accident in San Salvador, reportedly suffering a heart attack while underwater. He was 34 years old.
“It really did take me about six months to function again,” Knight told USA Today in 2015 about Matthew’s death. “And it's something a parent never gets over. They say, 'When do you get over it?' You never get over it. Ever."