Michael Jordan is by far the figure most responsible for the sneaker craze of the past 35 years. His Air Jordan line at Nike changed sneakers simply from something you wore into a piece of culture. He now makes tens of millions of dollars annually from his shoe deal, but he isn’t the only one profiting off the arrangement. On Sunday, Sotheby’s announced the sale of a pair of red, white and black Air Jordan 1s that M.J. wore in a game. The final sale price? A staggering $560,000.
The shoes do not match in sizes, as Jordan’s left foot is slightly smaller at size 13 than his right (size 13.5). While the exact game in which Jordan wore the shoes is not listed, it can be assumed that it came during either his rookie 1984-85 season with the Chicago Bulls or his sophomore 1985-86 campaign, as those are the seasons in which he wore this model on the court. Considering the foot injury that limited his second season, it is likely that they were worn during his first. The $560,000 price dwarfs the previous record for the sale of any shoe. According to Reuters, the previous record was set in 2019, when Sotheby’s sold a classic Nike running shoe known as the “Moon Shoe” for $437,500.
Jordan setting the record is appropriate on a number of levels. He obviously holds plenty of records on the court, and adding another one to the pile feels right, but it is his connection to the sneaker world that truly makes this moment special. The Air Jordan 1 is by far the most important sneaker ever released. It turned a small company in Nike into a global behemoth. It made Jordan the most prolific endorser in the history of sports, and perhaps the biggest celebrity in the world at his peak. It not only made sneakers part of the lexicon, but raised serious questions about the pricing of shoes that many wearers really couldn’t afford. Jordans, especially older ones, tend to be quite expensive. It is only fitting that the oldest pair of Jordans ever made is now literally the most expensive shoe in existence.