Pair of Nikes handmade by co-founder Bill Bowerman is expected to sell for $130K

The first shoe of its kind to go up for bidding.

After auctioning off game-worn and autographed Air Jordan 1s for a record-setting $560,000, Sotheby's is putting another rare pair of Nikes up for bids.

Bidding is open through June 26 for a pair of waffle spike sneakers handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman in the early '70s. This marks the first time any sneakers of this kind have gone up for auction, and they're expected to fetch between $130,000 and $150,000. They were made for John Mays, a runner on Bowerman's University of Oregon track team who's held on to them ever since.


The sneakers pre-date Nike — Bowerman originally made the shoes while Nike was still named Blue Ribbon Sports, and he modified them later in 1974 to include his now-famous waffle soles. Only the right shoe of the pair has the waffle sole, which Bowerman noted in a hand-written note included in the auction.

"John — the right shoe interval heel is the one we are testing for wear," Bowerman wrote. Can you write on this sheet the approximate mileage or yardage you put on this on the track. Call me occasionally and tell me what the situation is."


Partially in mint condition — Mays never ended up testing the modified shoe, which you can tell by the mint condition of the right back heel. Besides that, the sneakers are well worn. Mays wore them for the NCAA Track and Field Championships, as well as the 1972 Olympic Trials. When they were first constructed, Mays said Bowerman took his measurements and had a new pair of shoes back to him in a week.

"Often times, Bill would talk to me about a new company he was involved with," Mays said in a release announcing the auction. "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."

Bidding is now open — The auction starts at $110,000, and as of today, the day after it opened, no bids have been placed. Whatever the final price ends up being, it's safe to say it won't touch the record-setting Air Jordan 1s that sold in May.

Those shoes — which sold right as The Last Dance documentary finished airing — were special not just because they were worn and autographed by Michael Jordan, but because they were a "mid" cut that never went on sale to the general public. The $560,000 sale surpassed the previous record, $437,500 for a 1972 Nike Waffle Racing Flat "Moon Shoe."

John Mays along with Bill Bowerman.Sotheby's