Nike just notched its highest quarterly sales in 50 years. Here’s 5 reasons why the sneaker brand is crushing its competition and coming out of the pandemic stronger than ever.

LeBron James Dwyane Wade alley oop
  • Nike made over $12 billion in sales in its most recent quarter, earning over $1.5 billion in profit.
  • The company took advantage of a strong consumer market to deliver the best performance in its history.
  • “These are times when strong brands can get stronger,” CEO John Donahoe said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Nike’s latest quarterly performance was more than the business equivalent of a slam dunk – it was a financial alley-oop. When the game tilted in its favor in the fourth quarter, the company ran its play with a risky setup that finished with a flourish.

After making a radical shift to its business model four years ago, the Oregon-based shoe and apparel maker came through the pandemic with the best fiscal quarter in its 50-year history, raking a profit of $1.5 billion on total sales of more than $12 billion.

“These are times when strong brands can get stronger, and each quarter this reality becomes even more clear,” CEO John Donahoe said in an earnings call on Thursday.

Pent-up demand and a strong consumer market certainly helped Nike along, but GlobalData retail analyst Neil Saunders said the company wasn’t just lucky.

“You have to give credit where credit is due, because not everyone is seeing quite such an uplift,” he said. “Nike’s strategy is good and it’s right, but the market is also very strong, so the combination of the two produce very good results.”

Here are five reasons Saunders says Nike is performing so well this year.

1. People want to treat themselves and stay active after a hard year

Up first is the simple fact that companies generally do better when people have money to spend, and US consumers are flush with stimulus cash and other savings from a year of uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“That is translating into a lot more spending, especially on products that people buy to treat themselves,” Saunders said. “People like new pairs of sneakers.”

Not only that, but consumers desire to stay active and healthy means Nike’s products are some of the first items on their shopping lists.

2. Retailers still love the swoosh

Even though Nike has been shifting more to a direct-sales model, consumer demand for the brand gives retailers a lot of reason to load up on the company’s products.

“A lot of retailers are very confident about continued spending and they’re putting a lot more money into buying inventory to make sure that they have enough stock, so that’s been very helpful to Nike,” Saunders said.

3. Sneakerheads are big fans of special editions and collectibles

Saunders also said Nike has also enjoyed a small but helpful lift from the resale market. The company’s ability to tap into its fans’ appetite for new designs to trade in secondary marketplaces has been a good source of sales over the past few quarters.

4. Nike is connecting more directly to customers

The cornerstone of Nike’s pre-pandemic strategy has been a greater emphasis on cutting out the retail middleman – even Amazon – and selling directly to customers.

This has not only helped improve profit margins, Saunders said, it helps create a stronger connection with customers.

In the call with analysts, CEO Donahoe said called it a “virtuous cycle” of consumer insights that influences everything from product design to inventory management.

5. The SNKRS app is making the brand more sticky

Nike has made a major push into the digital space with its SNKRS app that blends content and commerce in a major way.

The app experienced nearly 80% growth in monthly active members from March-to-May and now boasts 300 million members, but Saunders says its a longer term play.

“They want to be able to engage with their customers more frequently understand their fitness and health habits, so it’s all about creating stickiness around the Nike brand,” he said. “Obviously an app is the perfect way to do that.”

“It is a very interesting play, but I think it’s a slower burn,” he added.

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Nike leaps 15% after smashing earnings forecasts and boosting its sales-growth forecast

Nike Beijing
Customers lined up outside the Nike flagship store on the opening day at Wangfujing Street on January 20, 2021 in Beijing, China.

Shares of Nike soared as high as 15.4% Friday after the retail giant smashed earning expectations and boosted its outlook for 2022.

The stock soared to $154.19 before paring back gains to trade around $151.82 as of Friday 10:52 a.m ET. Nike’s year-to-date gains stand at roughly 7.2%

Nike’s earnings per share of $0.93 were significantly higher than $0.51 expected by analysts. Revenue came in at $12.34 billion, higher than the $11.01 billion expected, and up 21% from the fourth quarter of 2019.

In North America, the retailer’s largest market, sales came in at $5.38 billion, up 29% on a two-year basis. Sales more than doubled from a year earlier, when the pandemic squashed the retail industry. Additionally, digital sales rose 147% compared to the same time period in 2019.

Investors also cheered Nike’s boosted revenue outlook. The Oregon-based company expects revenue to grow past $50 billion in 2022. Analysts had expected revenue of $48.46.

“FY21 was a pivotal year for Nike as we brought our Consumer Direct Acceleration strategy to life across the marketplace. Fueled by our momentum, we continue to invest in innovation and our digital leadership to set the foundation for Nike’s long-term growth,” Nike CEO John Donahoe said in a press release.

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SNEAKER RESELLING SIDE HUSTLE: Your guide to making thousands flipping hyped pairs of Dunks, Jordans, and Yeezys

kickzmalik sneaker reseller
Gautam Malik is just one entrepreneur making thousands of dollars by reselling sneakers.

With the sneaker resale market continuing to thrive, Insider is covering all aspects of how to properly scale a business in the booming industry. From which sneakers to purchase to necessary technological investments, made in the form of bots that entrepreneurs entrust to nab pairs online, the following covers everything you need to know about how to break into the market that Cowen & Co. estimates could reach $30 billion globally by 2030.

Getting started

Sneaker reselling is based on a simple concept that guides many other businesses: buy low, sell high. You’ll want to figure out how to track expenses and figure out net profit on each pair sold. One entrepreneur who made over $125,000 in sales since January 2019 showed us his spreadsheet that he uses for tracking profits. You’ll also want to figure out your strategy. While some people might prefer to invest in a few pairs and wait for them to grow in value, others utilize a high-volume sneaker resale strategy to make money by moving product quickly at slimmer margins. Others focus on acquiring rarer pairs that can fetch thousands at auction. Some have even developed mathematical formulas to determine the best way to buy and sell. Lastly, it can be helpful to take a look at some up-and-coming sneaker resale websites to learn about new ways to make money in the industry.

Read more: A 16-year-old who made $125,000 in sneaker sales reveals his pro tips for young resellers looking to break into the multi-billion dollar industry

A sneakerhead who made nearly $7 million in sales last year reveals his secrets to tapping into the exploding multibillion-dollar resale market

The top sneaker seller on eBay who made $1.5 million in sales in 2019 reveals how he grew business to dominate the platform

We got a look at exact spreadsheet a 16-year-old uses to make thousands of dollars in sales as a major sneaker supplier to stores and boutiques

5 up-and-coming sneaker websites that resellers and collectors should use in 2020 to boost profit and nab hyped pairs

A sneaker reseller whose store has made millions in sales since 2018 shares the mathematical formula he uses to determine which pairs will skyrocket in value

Scaling your business

Once you nail down the basics, here are some tools to guide you on the next steps of growing your business. While many sneaker resellers can start from humble beginnings, it can take just a few months to hit sustainable profit margins. Attending sneaker events like Sneaker Con is a great way to build connections and make fast sales. But as your business grows, it is important to keep track of all of your sales and expenses to ensure that you file your taxes correctly each year.

Read more: Here are 5 steps that independent sneaker resellers live by to pay their taxes every season

How a formerly homeless sneakerhead with just $40 to his name built a multi-million dollar resale empire in 6 years

A sneakerhead who has attended more than 20 Sneaker Cons reveals his top 6 secrets for making the most money at a resale event

3 sneakerhead sisters could fetch over $1 million by selling thousands of their classic Nike, Adidas, and Reebok shoes through an exclusive eBay auction

Sneaker botting

In the sneaker resale world, a “bot” refers to a software application that expedites the online checkout process and helps resellers nab hyped pairs online – including limited-edition drops. Though a controversial aspect of the sneaker world, bots are often essential for purchasing the latest releases at retail prices. In many cases, these bots are built by former sneakerheads and self-taught developers who make a killing from their useful product. Bots, like sneakers, can resell for hundreds of dollars. There are even some bots that are meant to help users nab sneaker bots at retail. While sneaker-nabbing bots can give resellers a leg-up, they are often the cause of much distress on the side of footwear companies who are looking to mitigate the problem.

Read more: A sneaker reseller who uses multiple ‘bots’ to nab mass quantities of expensive shoes the moment they drop explains why the controversial tech is worth it

Inside the controversial underworld of sneaker ‘bots,’ where coded scripts resell for thousands of dollars and Twitter monitors can make or break a release

A 16-year-old’s sneaker bot business charged $200,000 in fees since October. Here’s how his 600-member group secures the coveted software before anyone else.

How a self-taught developer with no formal training made $700,000 in sales this year from his sneaker bot, Splashforce, that nabs hyped pairs in just milliseconds

As sneaker bots explode, a veteran reseller and YouTuber with over 160,000 subscribers reveals 3 steps to profiting from the lucrative tech

In the arms race between teenage sneaker bot users and footwear companies, one side is winning – and it’s not the billion-dollar companies

Cook groups and online services:

While they normally charge hefty membership fees, cook groups are exclusive forums that supply information for anyone looking to break into the multi-billion dollar market. They usually offer members access to botting services in addition to exclusive details related to drops. We got a look inside a couple of these groups, including Polar Chefs, a thriving cook group with over 400 members that was started by a teenager who employs 23 people to help him run the group. Cook groups are often run on Discord, a messaging platform that has become a hotbed for sneakerhead activity.

Read more: Exclusive sneaker resale groups make millions by paying insiders to leak information on valuable sneaker releases before they happen. Here’s a look inside one of these members-only forums.

Inside a teen’s exclusive sneaker cook group that makes him 6-figures in sales, employs 23 people full-time, and nabs pairs of the hottest sneakers on the market

How Discord went from gaming and alt-right hub to a sneaker cook group hotbed, where resellers charge fees to share their secrets for cracking the $2 billion resale market

A college dropout runs a multi-million dollar sneaker cook group, AMNotify, with thousands of members across the world. Here’s how he launched one of the first exclusive sneaker forums from a hospital bed in 2017.

Navigating the industry during the pandemic

While slowdowns in shipping and supply chains caused some problems for the sneaker industry early on in the pandemic, the value of certain pairs, like the Air Force 1 and Air Jordan 1, has remained strong. Experts say that some pairs, like the Nike SB Dunk Low Travis Scotts or the Jordan 5 Retro High Off-Whites, will likely skyrocket in value after the pandemic. The CEOs of GOAT, Stadium Goods, and Bump all predicted that the sneaker resale market will continue to grow, and the proof is in the businesses. One teen entrepreneur that we spoke to said his business soared during the pandemic, bringing in close to $500,000 in sales during quarantine.

Read more: The CEOs of GOAT, Stadium Goods, and BUMP outlined the best ways for sneaker resellers to navigate the multi-billion dollar market in the pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak is wrecking the sneaker resale industry, but investing in specific pairs can soften losses. Here’s how to navigate the market in crisis, according to the head of China’s Sneaker Con.

These are the sneakers most likely to skyrocket in value when the coronavirus panic dies down, according to the founder of the largest sneaker event in the world

A 17-year-old entrepreneur made close to $500,000 in sales reselling sneakers during quarantine. Take a look inside his pandemic-proof business model.

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Chinese authorities reportedly interrogated workers linked to US company Verité, which investigates supply-chain labor abuses in the country

A Uyghur woman holds up a photograph as evidence in a wood paneled room in London
Uyghur teacher Qelbinur Sidik speaks at a hearing in London in June on China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

  • Workers linked to a US company were interrogated by Chinese officials in April, sources told Axios.
  • The workers were linked to nonprofit Verité, which investigates labor abuses in global supply chains.
  • The State Department said it was “deeply concerned” by the reports.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At least seven people working in partnership with a US labor-rights company were interrogated for several days by Chinese officials, Axios reported.

Chinese authorities questioned people working on behalf of Verité in April, Axios reported, citing several unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Verité is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that investigates possible labor abuses in supply chains.

The US State Department was “deeply concerned by reports that supply-chain auditors have been detained, threatened, harassed and subjected to constant surveillance while conducting their vital work in China,” a spokesperson told Axios.

It is not clear whether the people were Verité employees or contractors, or which company’s supply chain they were investigating.

Since 2016, China has detained about 1 million Uyghurs in their homeland of Xinjiang in hundreds of prison camps. It claims they are a terror threat. The US government has criticized China for its suspected use of forced labor of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and human-rights groups accuse China of committing “crimes against humanity.” The Chinese government has denied that it uses forced labor in Xinjiang.

Chinese consumers threatened to boycott major clothing brands, including H&M and Nike, after the companies said they would not use cotton produced in Xinjiang.

It is not clear whether the workers were investigating Xinjiang-linked supply chains.

Verité aims to “empower workers to advocate for their rights,” according to its website. It lists Nestlé, Asos, and Disney among its partners and clients.

Verité did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Kanye West was spotted wearing the new Gap Yeezy jacket and Nike shoes – but he still has 5 years left on his partnership with Adidas

Kanye West at 2008 Grammy awards
Kanye West at 2008 Grammy awards

  • Kanye West stepped out wearing Nike shoes and his newly-announced Gap x Yeezy jacket last week.
  • West has a partnership with Adidas, which controls the site his Yeezy shoes are sold on, per Bloomberg.
  • Some social media users speculated he could be signalling an end to his Adidas deal by wearing Nike.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kanye West wore Nike shoes when he stepped out in the newly announced first product of his Gap and Yeezy collaboration.

West, who founded the apparel brand Yeezy, was spotted out on June 3 wearing Nike shoes and a bright blue puffy coat. A week after the photos were taken, Gap announced the $200 coat would be the first product created in collaboration with Yeezy.

West and Adidas announced the two would partner in 2013, in a deal reportedly worth $10 million at the time. Bloomberg reported Yeezy has a valuation of $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion, per investment bank UBS, due to the lucrative partnerships with Gap and Adidas. The partnership with Adidas, Bloomberg notes, runs through 2026.

Social media users pointed out the Nike shoes, and speculated whether he was in breach of the Adidas contract or announcing an end to the partnership.

West has ownership over the Yeezy brand, but Adidas operates the website his shoes are sold on. Yeezy x Adidas sneaker sales amounted to $1.7 billion in 2020, according to Bloomberg, netting West with $191 million in royalties.

West’s first sneaker, the $245 limited-edition Air Yeezy, was released in collaboration with Nike in 2009. The shoe later sold on the resale market for thousands of dollars, and a prototype of the shoe with a value of more than $1 million could become the priciest sneakers ever sold.

Some analysts and insiders consider Yeezy one of the most influential sneaker brands ever, reportedly inspiring the now-popular shoe brand Allbirds, Insider’s Mary Hanbury reported.

Nike, Adidas, and a representative for Kanye West did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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AT&T is reportedly spinning off its media assets to Discovery

Hi and welcome to Insider Advertising for May 17. I’m senior advertising reporter Lauren Johnson, and here’s what’s going on:

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“Wonder Woman 1984” debuts on HBO Max and in theaters on December 25.

AT&T is in deal talks to create a new streaming giant with Discovery

Read the story.


Inside the lucrative and murky world of advertising search consultants

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nike ceo john donahoe
Nike CEO John Donahoe

Nike workers confess excitement and dread as the company plans to require thousands to return to the office

Read the story.

Other stories we’re reading:

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Superstar gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike for a new partnership with Gap-owned athletic brand Athleta

Simone Biles
Simone Biles.

  • Gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike for a partnership with Gap-owned Athleta.
  • Biles told The Wall Street Journal that she’s attracted to Athleta’s values and female-focused team.
  • Sprinter Allyson Felix also signed a deal with Athleta following a high-profile split with Nike.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike for a new partnership with apparel brand Athleta.

The five-time Olympic medalist has signed a deal with the Gap-owned athleticwear company that includes her own line of performance wear, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Louise Radnofsky. Biles told The Journal that Athleta’s core values and female-focused team led her to sign with the company.

“I felt like it wasn’t just about my achievements, it’s what I stood for and how they were going to help me use my voice and also be a voice for females and kids,” she said. “I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing.”

The Journal notes that despite Biles’ sponsorship deal with Nike, which she signed in 2015, she has not been a major face of the brand, making only small appearances in advertisements. Biles is currently the best female gymnast in the world and is widely considered to be the greatest of all time.

Biles has 25 world-title medals, the most in the world – she’s competed in just one Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, where she took home four gold medals and one bronze. She plans to compete in the Tokyo games, which will be held this summer after being pushed due to the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Nike did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. A Nike spokesperson told The Journal that “Simone Biles is an incredible athlete and we wish her the very best.” The company “will continue to champion, celebrate and evolve to support our female athletes,” the spokesperson said.

Read more: After gaining 2 million new customers with its masks, Athleta’s head of merchandising reveals plans to keep them by becoming a ‘lifestyle brand’

Biles decision to leave the Nike roster follows several instances of female athletes reporting issues with the company. Allyson Felix, one of the most decorated sprinters in history, accused the company of failing to support her decision to become a mother in a bombshell op-ed she wrote for The New York Times in May 2019. According to Felix, during contract negotiations that coincided with her pregnancy, Nike offered her a 70% pay cut and refused to guarantee that Felix wouldn’t be punished for being unable to perform her best after childbirth.

Felix signed a deal with Athleta in 2019.

Multiple other female runners, including Kara Goucher, Phoebe Wright, and Alysia Montaño, have spoke up about the pressure to perform during or immediately after their pregnancies or face reduced sponsorship payments from Nike. The company has since instituted a new maternity policy that does not penalize pregnant athletes.

In 2019, Mary Cain, a female sprinter who was signed to Nike’s high-profile Oregon Project track team, told The New York Times that she was pressured to get “thinner, and thinner, and thinner” at the detriment of her health. Nike launched an internal investigation and said it would make internal changes to better support female athletes.

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Dow tumbles 257 points as spike in COVID-19 cases spurs economic-recovery concern

wall street new york stock exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

  • The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered their second straight losses on Tuesday.
  • COVID-19 cases worldwide have risen by more than 10% over the past week.
  • Nike dropped on the Dow but IBM was a winner.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US stocks dropped Tuesday, with their grip on record highs further loosening as investors worry about the prospects for global economic growth as COVID-19 cases worldwide increase.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average each fell for a second consecutive session, pulling back from last week’s strongest finishes on record.

As “stocks fall on back-to-back days for the first time this month, you can probably blame an old culprit: COVID,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, in comments sent to Insider.

Here’s where US indexes stood at 4 p.m. on Tuesday:

Cumulative coronavirus cases worldwide have risen by more than 10% over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and cases topped 142.3 million on Tuesday. Officials in Japan were considering declaring a virus state of emergency, and the UK imposed a travel ban for visitors from India as that country becomes the new epicenter of the outbreak behind the US. Argentina, meanwhile, is battling another wave of cases.

“Higher-than-expected earnings might not be packing as big a punch as normal, partly because analysts had been raising their earnings estimates before earnings season began,” Kinahan said. “At this point, it’s really more about what companies forecast and less about what happened in Q1.”

IBM shares rose and performed the best among the Dow industrials after the technology company’s first-quarter earnings and revenue beat Wall Street’s targets. But fellow Dow component Nike dropped sharply following a Citi downgrade to neutral from buy on concerns that recent boycotts in China will hurt sales at the athletic wear maker.

Apple shares were lower. The company at its virtual event on Tuesday unveiled, among other products, its AirTags tracking accessory.

Around the markets, Johnson & Johnson shares rose after the company planned to resume COVID-19 vaccine shipments to the European Union.

GameStop stake held by Alaska’s revenue department soared by more than 700% last quarter. Alaska also said its Tesla bet had grown to $85 million in 18 months.

Bitfarms, a Canadian bitcoin-mining company, is planning a new mining site in Argentina that it said would be its largest yet.

Gold rose 0.3%, to $1,776 per ounce. Long-dated US Treasury yields fell, with the 10-year yield down to 1.56%.

Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 1.2% to $62.61 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 1%, to $66.51 per barrel.

Bitcoin rose to $56,524.

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Nike will now clean and resell used sneakers at discount prices in a US trial

Nike Refurbished
The refurbished shoes will be sold at Nike factory stores.

  • Nike said it would clean and resell sneakers returned by customers in 15 stores in the US.
  • Nike Refurbished will sell shoes returned within 60 days of purchase. Customers can buy them at a discount.
  • Nike said it wanted to stop shoes ending up in a landfill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Nike has launched a new program to clean and resell sneakers that have been used and returned by customers.

The athletics-wear giant announced Monday that “Nike Refurbished” would see “gently” or hardly worn shoes, or shoes returned with cosmetic flaws, cleaned and sold again at discounted prices. The shoes must have been returned within the company’s 60-day returns period to be resold.

In a press release announcing the news on Monday, the company did not say what would have previously happened when these sneakers were returned. Insider asked the company for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

The refurbished shoes will now be sold at its factory and outlet stores. This initiative is currently available at 15 US stores, but the company said it planned to add Nike Refurbished to more stores, to boost its sustainability and reduce waste.

While it promises to “help keep shoes out of landfills,” the new service also means Nike can stop some of its products reaching booming sneaker resale platforms such as StockX or GOAT.

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The maker of Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’ has settled a trademark dispute brought by Nike, and will buy back doctored Nike shoes it has sold

Lil Nas X's "Satan Shoe" collaboration with MSCHF.
Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoe” collaboration with MSCHF.

  • Nike settled its lawsuit with MSCHF over the controversial “Satan Shoe,” the retailer told Insider.
  • The terms of the settlement include a voluntary recall for MSCHF buy back the shoes.
  • “The parties are pleased to put this dispute behind them,” Nike said in a statement.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Nike has settled with the maker of Lil Nas X’s controversial “Satan Shoe” for an undisclosed amount.

Nike filed a trademark infringement suit on March 29 after art startup MSCHF collaborated with Lil Nas X on a shoe that knocks off the Nike Air Max 97 and claimed to insert a drop of human blood to the midsole.

The terms of the settlement include a voluntary recall that allow MSCHF to buy back the Satan Shoes for their original retail price. MSCHF said on April 1 it had shipped at least 200 pairs of the shoe before a judge granted Nike’s temporary restraining order to stop processing the orders.

“If any purchasers were confused, or if they otherwise want to return their shoes, they may do so for a full refund,” Nike said in a statement to Insider. “The parties are pleased to put this dispute behind them.”

Read more: Nike tried to sue the controversial ‘Satan Shoes’ out of existence. Instead, it’s fueling hype as pairs sell for thousands of dollars on the resale market.

Nike added customers who do not want to return the shoe or encounter a “product issue, defect, or health concern,” should contact MSCHF. The shoe giant reiterated Nike had no role in selling the Satan Shoe.

MSCHF has made a reputation selling unorthodox, “meme-worthy” products, including a $10 toaster bath bomb and an app for making stock investments based on astrological signs.

Last year, the startup sold a Jesus-inspired sneaker filled with holy water that also appeared to be altered Nike Air Max 97s. The “Jesus Shoe” will also be part of the voluntary recall as part of Nike’s settlement.

“If we can make people a fan of the brand and not the product, we can do whatever the f–k we want,” Daniel Greenberg, the head of commerce at MSCHF, told Insider’s Paige Leskin last year. “We build what we want. We don’t care.”

MSCHF was not immediately available for comment.

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