The Most Expensive Nike Shoes
Imagine yourself at a Sotheby's auction, and the next item up for bidding is valued at more than $500,000. You're excited to attend such a prestigious auction house, as you know anything up for sale has the potential to become extremely valuable in the next couple of years. You win the bid at $560,000 and are handed a pair of ragged Nike Air Jordan 1s worn in a game by Michael Jordan. Oh, and they're signed by Jordan himself. Would that have been enough to make you surrender over half a million? Well, for many, it is, and this article will give you a brief history of the Nike company and some of its record-breaking sneaker sales.
A Brief Nike History
In 1964, University of Oregon and field coach, Bill Bowerman founded Blue Ribbon Sports along with a former student-athlete, Phil Knight. Bowerman was known by his runners for searching out new ways to improve the performance of their running shoes. In Phil Knight’s memoir “Shoedog,” Knight detailed that Bowerman often deconstructed his runner’s sneakers and put them back together in a way he thought would help optimize their comfort and performance. Knight and Bowerman entered into a 50-50 ownership deal with Nike co-founder Phil Knight for their running shoe company.
Knight began selling the shoes out of his car, and it was clear the demand for high-quality but inexpensive shoes was on the rise. The dominating brands were Adidas and Puma at the time, but Bowerman had a new invention up his sleeve. In 1965, he designed a shoe for a Japanese company, Tiger, that offered a much more supportive innersole and a firm rubber outsole. The shoe was an instant hit but became a source of conflict between the two companies.
No resolution could be reached, and the two companies split in 1971. Bowerman and Knight went on to form Nike, Inc. Since then, the company has grown to be the leader in innovative sneaker technology and sales. Nike has a long list of athletic endorsements with Michael Jordan, Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Rafael Nadal, and Tiger Woods. Nike's influence on sneaker culture is undeniable. Between the iconic swoosh logo and the “Just Do It” catchphrase, Nike has been the backdrop for many historic moments in sports. It's not surprising that many Nike sneakers are now highly-coveted collector's items and status symbols for sneakerheads.
How Much Are Nikes?
Most people buy Nike shoes off the shelf, and the average retail price for a pair is $110.15. On the lower end of this price spectrum, the average cost of an inexpensive pair of Nikes is roughly $66.75. Regarding categories, soccer cleats are the most expensive retail Nike shoes at $149 on average, while performance basketball shoes and sneakers come in at $134.
Sneakers belonging to popular collections like Nike’s Air line average $183, and the Nike Lebron James collection averages around $179. Nike Revolution and Legend are less expensive collections that are about $61.67 for most shoes.
If your budget allows you to purchase a specialty pair, the Nike SB Dunk High 420s would set you back $4,000 for the sneakers. The Air Jordan 4 Retro Eminem Encore only has 23 pairs floating around and resells for $18,000. However, the robust sneaker resale market offers sneakerheads an opportunity to cop their favorites at prices that range from affordable to astronomic. Not all great sneakers retail for thousands of dollars, and you can find deals at resellers like StockX, Flight Club, and GOAT. You can learn more about the secondary market in our guide to sneaker reselling.
The Most Expensive Nike Shoes
You may be wondering who would pay that much for a pair of shoes for the court or the field. Well, they aren't just athletic sneakers anymore. They're high-end fashion with prices that rival famous couture collections. It can be hard to wrap your head around why these sneakers are priced so high. Keep reading and prepare to have your mind blown by the costs surrounding the most expensive Nike shoes.
1. Solid Gold Ovo x Air Jordan
Price Tag: $2 million
The most expensive Nikes come courtesy of rapper and mega-star, Drake. He had a custom pair of 24k solid gold shoes designed, and they're not even wearable. Imagine owning the most expensive Nike shoes in the world and not being able to walk in them once. These shoes are more like small statues that should be encased and displayed in a museum— a true work of art.
2. Kanye West's Performance-Worn 2008 All-Black Nike Air Yeezy
Price Tag: $1.8 million
In April 2021, this shoe broke Sotheby's record and became the world's most expensive privately sold sneakers. The all-black shoes were worn by West as he performed at the 2008 Grammys. The back leather shoe featured a glow-in-the-dark outsole, which matched West’s Graduation/Glow in the Dark Tour aesthetic. Because Nike didn't release the shoes to the public, the hype only increased. Although they were only a sample pair, West's shoes grew to be the most desired prototype among collectors.
3. Michael Jordan-Worn Nike Air Ships
Price Tag: $1.47 million
Thank Sotheby's for its auction in October 2021 where these sneakers sold for $1.47 million. Why did these shoes become the most expensive pair of worn sneakers sold at auction? Because in 1984, Michael Jordan wore them in a game and signed the sneakers. Nike's Air Ship was not featured in the Air Jordan line. MJ wore the shoes while the Air Jordan 1s were in development, but it wasn't one of his signature shoes. However, they rank as special enough to be called million-dollar shoes.
4. Nike Air Jordan 1 Chicago Shattered Backboard
Price Tag: $615,000
Are you noticing a theme here? That's right, another pair of Air Jordans makes the list, further proving Nike's dominance in the retail and resale market. In August 2020, the auction house Christie's sold the rare Jordans worn in an exhibition game in 1985.
5. Nike Air Jordan 1 Chicago (Game-Worn and Autographed)
Price Tag: $560,000
If you hadn't already guessed, another Air Jordan is among the highest-priced sneakers sold worldwide. In 1985, Jordan signed and wore the red, white, and black pair of game shoes and watched them go for over half a million in 2020 at Sotheby's.
6. 1972 Nike Moon Shoe
Price Tag: $437,500
While these shoes didn't break the half-a-million mark, they still commanded a hefty price tag. That's because Bill Bowerman hand-stitched these shoes, of which only 12 pairs exist. Owning a pair of these is a dream come true for any Nike sneakerhead.
7. Nike Air Mag
Price Tag: $200,000
First seen in the film “'Back to the Future Part II,” these shoes resembled a pair worn by Marty McFly and were released 27 years after the movie debuted. The futuristic self-lacing technology intrigued many collectors, and the shoes were sold in November 2016 by the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Other Expensive Sneakers
Nike isn't the only brand to have sneakers sold at auction for an excessive amount. But Michael Jordan is again the common denominator. In 1984, he wore a pair of Converse sneakers when Team USA defeated Spain for the gold medal. These sneakers were the last pair of trainers Jordan wore as an amateur before he signed with Nike, and they sold for $190,000.
Adidas and other shoe manufacturers also create lines that go for thousands of dollars. Rapper and music producer Pharrell Williams has several lucrative collaborations with Adidas. He worked with legendary designers at Chanel and developed the HRT Chanel and Pharrell NMD. Only 500 pairs were released; if you find one, it will cost you just over $11,000.
Nike's Most Coveted Shoes
Nike has been a prominent force in the sneaker industry for decades and shows no signs of slowing down. Being endorsed by one of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Jordan, has definitely helped the resale value of their shoes. If you're looking to start a collection, a pair of highly desired Jordans will have you off to a good start.
Look for the next big thing if they're out of your price range. After all, no one knew that those shoes Jordan wore in the mid to late 1980s would later be sold for millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Keep your ears to the sneakerhead streets and look for sneakers that the culture views as important. Enter raffles for limited-edition shoes to save money on your purchase and optimize your future profits. Before you know it, you'll have an extensive collection you can proudly show off to friends and family.
Q: How much are Jordans?
A: They cost between $170 to $225.
Q: How many pairs of shoes does PJ Tucker have?
A: As of 2021, he claims to own 5,000 pairs of shoes.
Q: How do I start my sneaker collection?
A: Find out what sneakers are culturally relevant by visiting sneakerhead forums and entering raffles to win a chance to purchase the shoes.