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Handmade Nike prototype running shoes up for auction

A pair of running shoes handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in the early 1970s are expected to sell for $150,000 at an upcoming online auction. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's
A pair of running shoes handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in the early 1970s are expected to sell for $150,000 at an upcoming online auction. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

June 18 (UPI) -- A pair of handmade shoes created by the co-founder of Nike for a University of Oregon runner in the early 1970s is expected to sell for up to $150,000 at an upcoming auction, the selling firm said.

Auction house Sotheby's said the shoes were handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman when he was serving as track coach at the University of Oregon in the early 1970s.

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The shoes, which have spikes on the soles as well as the first instance of Nike's iconic waffle design, were made for John Mays, who was then a runner on Bowerman's team. Mays has possessed the shoes ever since, the auctioneer said.

"Oftentimes, Bill would talk to me about a new company he was involved with. I didn't pay much attention to it at the time. One day, he asked me to help test a new sprint spike shoe he was designing. Of course, I agreed and was excited to be chosen," Mays said.

Bowerman and Phil Knight founded Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964, and they renamed the company Nike in 1971.

The auction for the shoes begins Wednesday and bidding will close June 26.

The listing comes about a month after a pair of autographed, game-worn Nike Air Jordan 1s from Michael Jordan's rookie season auctioned for a record-breaking $560,000.

"We felt the only appropriate way to follow up a sale of that magnitude was to offer something special that spoke to the history and legacy of Nike," said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby's director of e-commerce development.

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