NEW YORK – Nike recently released a sneaker honoring their namesake, the goddess of Victory, but unfortunately, there was no Greek person they could consult about the actual spelling of the name in Greek. The Greek goddess of Victory was rendered on the sneaker using the letters of the Greek alphabet that would be pronounced ‘Piks,’ not ‘Nike.’ Greek and non-Greek media outlets around the world and social media soon picked up on the flub. Petitions began to circulate calling for Nike to recall the sneakers.
Among the more creative posts on Instagram, Thanasi Papoulias of the Greek lifestyle blog “Excuse Me, Are You Greek?” based in Los Angeles shared a TikTok video of Academy Award-winning actor Anthony Hopkins reacting dramatically along with the following text: “@nike managed to write a brand new Greek tragedy for all of us. Apparently this is the way @nike wants to ‘honor’ the Greek goddess of Victory and their namesake. Major EFFing FAIL. Who was in that board room pitching this? And what asshat executive signed off in this? I can't. I can't. I can't. I quit. @nike you officially drove me over the cliff. #greek #shoes #sneakers #sneakerhead #nike #fail #majorfail #stupid #sneakerheads #emayg.”
Footwear News (FN) was among the media outlets that first reported on the release of the photos of the soon-to-be-released sneaker, without noticing that the name of the goddess, Nike, was misspelled in Greek as Piks.
“The most standout element, however, is the shoe’s tongue,” FN reported, adding that “this piece is elongated with a mesh fabric finalized with a rigid design made to look like wings as a tribute to the goddess — whose name is none other than, Nike. Other details include the definition of Nike, ‘Ancient Greek Goddess of Victory,’ written on the insole.”
Angie Xidias started a petition on change.org stating that “we are demanding Nike to retract and recall the Air Force 1 ‘Goddess of Victory’ sneakers from the marketplace. Nike has misused the Greek alphabet on the back of the sneakers misrepresenting the spelling of the Greek Goddess NIKH (NIKE).”
“We are asking Nike to preserve and respect the Greek culture and history by accurately using the Greek alphabet when writing and referring to the Goddess NIKE,” Xidias noted in the petition which is already nearing 500 signatures, has been viewed 3500 times and shared 270 times. The petition started by Xidias is available online: shorturl.at/iuvGL
On June 10, Newsweek also reported on the misspelling, in an article titled “Nike Sneakers Face Recall as Company Spells Its Own Name Wrongly” and quoted one supporter of the petition who said: “The name should be spelled correctly. Stop using the Greek language in this incorrect form, it has nothing to do with the Goddess Nike. Stop bastardizing the Greek language. The Goddess Nike should be spelled properly, don't mock my cultural heritage.”
“Oh I cannot contain it. These make me so mad. I know it doesn't matter, only an idiot would wear shoes that say ‘piks’ in Greek letters and think it said Nike and I shouldn't care what shoes idiots wear but my GOD IT MAKES ME SO MAD. THERE'S 11 MILLION GREEK PEOPLE. ASK ONE,” Zoe Gardner @ZoeJardiniere posted on Twitter.
One reply to Gardner on Twitter, from Jim the Hedgehog, noted that the poster for My Big Fat Greek Wedding also featured the misuse of Greek letters: “My Big Fat Grssk Wedding all over again.”
Earlier this year, Nike announced that it was permanently closing all of its retail stores in Athens, according to a report from the Athens News Agency. In its statement from February, the company said: “Nike has a bold vision to create the marketplace of the future, one closely aligned with what consumers want and need. As part of our recently announced Consumer Direct Acceleration strategy, we are doubling down on our approach, serving consumers in Greece with Nike Digital channels including Nike.com and our retail apps, Nike Factory stores, as well as a smaller number of strategic partners who share our vision to create a consistent, connected and modern shopping experience.”