The last month has been a nightmare for Nike.
Earlier in March, a magazine article revealed ties between one of the company's top executives and her son's sneaker resale business, leading to her resignation. Now, the Beaverton-based sportswear giant has been forced to deny that it had anything to do with the creation of shoes containing small amounts of actual human blood.
Let us explain—or try to.
A few days ago, the rapper Lil Nas X, of "Old Town Road" and its 9,000 remixes fame, dropped a video for his new single, "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," which, among other hellish imagery, depicts the artist giving the devil a lap dance. It's fun!
In conjunction with the video, the rapper partnered with MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based company whose other projects include "toaster-shaped bath bombs and rubber-chicken bongs," according to The New York Times, to release a pair of limited-edition "Satan Shoes": modified Nike Air Max 97s featuring a bronze pentagram charm, a printed reference to the Bible verse Luke 10:18 ("I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven") and, allegedly, drops of blood from the MSCHF staff mixed into the ink that fills the side air bubble.
It's a follow-up of sorts to the brand's previous Jesus Shoe, which came with holy water supposedly from the River Jordan in its sole.
Of course, that didn't keep several politicians and religious figures from grasping their pearls and shaming the company whose famous logo adorns the side.
In a statement, Nike denied having any involvement in the production of the Satan Shoes.
"We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF," the company said. "Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them."
The legality of selling customized versions of preexisting shoes is a bit unclear—the Times' inquiry to the Consumer Product Safety Commission was not immediately returned—but MSCHF is going forward regardless, selling 666 pairs (natch) at $1,018 each.
Lil Nas X, meanwhile, spent the weekend on Twitter responding to outraged commenters about both the "Montero" video and the shoes. On Sunday, the rapper relented, issuing an apology for the shoes on YouTube. As you can probably guess, though, it turned out not to be entirely genuine: