Legendary University of Oregon track coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman was known to hand-make custom spikes for his runners, and now, for the first time ever, one of those spikes is appearing at auction. Presented in a Sotheby’s single-lot offering, the spikes are one of only a handful of pairs in existence, and come from the collection of John Mays, a onetime member of the Oregon track team.
According to Sotheby’s, Bowerman made the white leather spikes for Mays in 1970 or early 1971, before Nike was officially formed in spring ‘71. As Mays was a sprinter during his time with the Ducks, the shoes are ultra low-profile and lightweight, with an unadorned heel and sharp metal forefoot spikes for propulsion. However, the right shoe was edited in 1974: Bowerman added a leather forefoot overlay and his now-famous waffle traction pattern for Mays to test out. A letter written to Mays by Bowerman accompanies the shoes as well, explaining the though process behind the modifications in detail. Therefore, the shoes are an interesting, two-pronged piece of history that perfectly encapsulates the genesis of Nike.
These Waffle Spikes are estimated to sell for between $130,000-$150,000 USD, amongst the most valuable pairs ever offered at auction. However, it’s very likely that they could exceed that estimation several times over. In May, a pair of Michael Jordan‘s game-worn and signed Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” sold for $560,000 USD, easily smashing its $100,000 USD price estimate to become the most expensive sneaker ever to hit the auction block. Going further back, a Nike Waffle Racing Flat — also known as the “Moon Shoe” — sold for a staggering $437,500 USD in July 2019.
Interested parties can head over to Sotheby’s to place a bid, with the auction open until June 26.
If you want to get your hands on some new kicks but don’t have six figures laying around, check out the latest installment of HYPEBEAST’S weekly Best Footwear Drops roundup.