October 8, 2018; Willamette Week
Last week, according to filings with the SEC, Nike cofounder and chairman emeritus Phil Knight gave 12 million Nike shares worth around $960 million to an unnamed nonprofit—very likely his family’s own Knight Foundation, which has previously been the charitable vehicle for him and his wife, Penelope. As recently as July, he had given another $700 million. Two years ago, the 80-year-old Knight told CBS that he planned to give most of his wealth, now estimated at $31 billion, away to charity.
Still, as we have written many times before, the super-rich may put on their pants one leg at a time, but they give differently from the rest of us. So, unless you happen to be the University of Oregon, Stanford University, or Oregon Health & Science University, where Knight attended school and has trusting relationships and gives gifts—at times in the hundreds of millions—the likelihood is you will not see any of this money. And, in case you think you might be able to approach staff or a board member, this board, like that of the Gates Foundation, is small and made up of three family members and Lisa McKillips, who has been at Nike for more than 44 years as the assistant to the chairman, and there does not appear to be staff.—Ruth McCambridge