Phillip Hampson Knight was born on February 24, 1938 in Portland, Oregon. åÊKnight’s father, William W. Knight, was a lawyer turned newspaper publisher. åÊKnight was a track star and ran track at the University of Oregon for famed coach Bill Bowerman whom Knight later co-founded Nike with. åÊShowing the grit that would later make him one of the best entrepreneur’s and richest people in the world (56th in the world according to Forbes), Knight asked his father for a summer job at his newspaper. åÊHis father rejected his request on the grounds of nepotism stating he should be able to find his own work so Knight went to work for a rival newspaper. åÊKnight received his journalism degree from the University of Oregon in 1959. While there he lettered as a varsity in track in 1957, ’58, and ’59. åÊHis best time in the mile was 4 minutes, 10 seconds.
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2. Income & Salary
Knight continued his education at Stanford Business school. åÊWhile taking a class on small business Knight reported that a light came on when his professor was describing what an entrepreneur is.
“That class was an ‘aha!’ moment … Shallenberger defined the type of person who was an entrepreneur–and I realized he was talking to me. I remember after saying to myself: ‘This is really what I would like to do.’ “
Knight wrote aåÊpaper in that class sparking his interest combining track and business, “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?” After graduation, Knight took a job as an accountant at a major firm that would go on to become present day Price Waterhouse as well as work as an assistant professor of business administration at Portland State. åÊHowever Knight took a trip to Asia exploring the world and ran across Tiger-brand running shoes. åÊHe was so impressed with the quality and low cost that he called the owner who took a meeting with the aspiring entrepreneur. åÊBy the end of the meeting Knight had secured distribution rights for the western United States. åÊWhen samples of tiger brand shoes arrived, Knight sent them to his coach at the University of Oregon Bill Bowerman with the hopes that he would buy some for his team. åÊBill was so impressed that he not only bought some, he offered to become Knights business partner. åÊThe two became partners and formed Blue Ribbon Sports that would eventually become Nike. åÊKnight paid a $35 commission to Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for the Nike swoosh – arguably the most recognizable logo in the world along with Coke and McDonalds. åÊOriginally Knight sold shoes out of the trunk of his car at track meets until eventually sales were high enough that he could leave his accounting job.
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3. Estimated Net Worth
Knight has a net worth that varies due to fluctuations in Nike stock but latest estimates peg the worth of Nike at $18.4 billion. åÊOther investments could bring the total closer to $18.8 billion. åÊThe billionaire lives rather modestly for a billionaire. åÊHis home in rural Oregon is estimated to be worth about 2 million or so. åÊThe home was bought in the 70’s and does have a pool and a nice yard, but is actually quite modest for a billionaire especially compared to homes like Larry Ellison’s. åÊKnight can drive anything he wants, but chooses to drive an Audi R8, which do cost over $100k. åÊKnight instead enjoys spending his fortune charitably making donations to his alma maters The University of Oregon and Stanford Business School. åÊKnight has donated so much money to the University of Oregon that he has his own locker in the football locker room. åÊThe university has also named a library after his mother, the law school after his father, and the basketball arena, Matthew Knight Arena, after his late son who died while scuba diving. åÊAfter retiring as CEO, Knight took a page out of Steve Jobs playbook and purchased an animation studio – the motivation being different as it was the animation studio his other son Travis worked for. åÊMaybe or maybe not still bitter over the way he was treated when he requested a job at his father’s newspaper, Knight appointed Travis CEO of the animation company. åÊKnight and his wife together, through their foundation own 841,145 shares of Class B common stock in Nike.