Phil Knight Biography: Life, Career, Wealth & Success

Estimated read time 4 min read

Phil Knight is an American businessman and philanthropist, best known as the co-founder and former CEO of Nike, Inc. Born on February 24, 1938, in Portland, Oregon, Knight was the son of a lawyer and a newspaper editor. He attended the University of Oregon, where he ran track and played basketball, before earning a degree in accounting from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

In 1964, Knight and his former track coach, Bill Bowerman, founded Blue Ribbon Sports, a company that sold imported running shoes from Japan. The company later changed its name to Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory, and grew into one of the world’s largest athletic brands.

Under Knight’s leadership, Nike became known for its innovative products, high-profile athlete endorsements, and aggressive marketing campaigns. By 2004, when Knight stepped down as CEO, the company had annual revenues of over $12 billion and a market capitalization of over $25 billion.

According to Forbes, as of 2021, Phil Knight has a net worth of $60.2 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world. Much of his wealth is tied up in Nike stock, as he still owns a significant stake in the company.

In addition to his business success, Knight is also known for his philanthropy. He has donated millions of dollars to various causes, including education, healthcare, and the arts. In 2016, Knight pledged $400 million to Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he earned his MBA.

Despite stepping down as CEO of Nike, Knight remains an influential figure in the company and in the business world more broadly. His wealth and philanthropy have cemented his status as one of the most notable and respected figures in American business.

Here is a timeline of the major events in the life and career of Phil Knight:

1938 – Phil Knight is born on February 24th in Portland, Oregon.

1955 – Knight graduates from Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon.

1959 – Knight receives a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon.

1962 – Knight earns a Master of Business Administration degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

1964 – Knight and his former track coach, Bill Bowerman, co-found Blue Ribbon Sports, which later becomes Nike.

1971 – The Nike “Swoosh” logo is designed by Carolyn Davidson.

1980 – Nike goes public and becomes a publicly traded company.

1984Knight’s net worth reaches $178 million as Nike’s stock rises.

1993 – Knight becomes CEO of Nike, succeeding William Perez.

2004 – Knight steps down as CEO of Nike and becomes chairman of the board.

2016 – Knight donates $400 million to Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

2021 – According to Forbes, Knight’s net worth is $60.2 billion.

Throughout his career, Phil Knight has been instrumental in shaping the athletic industry and turning Nike into one of the world’s most recognized brands. His innovative ideas and marketing strategies have helped Nike become a global leader in athletic footwear and apparel. Knight’s philanthropic contributions have also left a lasting impact on education and healthcare.

Here are 5 interesting facts about Phil Knight:

  1. Phil Knight was a talented runner in college and continued to run regularly throughout his life. He even ran a marathon on all seven continents.
  2. Knight was once a certified public accountant and worked as a professor of business administration at Portland State University before co-founding Nike.
  3. Knight originally wanted to call Nike “Dimension Six,” but Bowerman suggested the name Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory.
  4. In his memoir “Shoe Dog,” Knight revealed that he almost went bankrupt multiple times in the early days of Nike.
  5. Knight is known for his love of art and has a personal collection of over 100 works, including pieces by Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Here are 5 quotes from Phil Knight:

  1. “The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us.”
  2. “The trouble in America is not that we are making too many mistakes, but that we are making too few.”
  3. “There is no finish line.”
  4. “When you see only problems, you’re not seeing clearly.”
  5. “The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past.”

You May Also Like

More From Author