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Nike Says: 'No Free Shoes!'

Dateline: 03/25/98

By David Emery

As of yesterday, Nike Inc. reports receiving up to 100 boxes of tattered, smelly old sneakers daily at its Wilsonville, Oregon warehouse from victims of an email hoax who fully expect to be sent a brand new pair of Nikes in exchange.

What they'll receive instead is a form letter stating that the message which prompted them to put their shoes in the mail is phony and not condoned by the company; that although Nike does have a shoe recycling program, that does not include an offer of new sneakers in exchange for old ones; and that all shoes the company receives in connection with the hoax message will be held for 21 days and then recycled unless senders notify the company that they want the shoes back.

The misinformation, circulating since mid-February, has grown from a minor headache to a major one for Nike in recent weeks. Because the address given out in the message is slightly inaccurate, the company has been able to track how many shoes it receives daily in response to the hoax. That amount has more than doubled over the past week.

If you receive the message (reproduced below), disregard it. Please do not forward it to anyone else. If at all possible, notify the sender that the information they're distributing is false.

Should you wish to make a donation to the real shoe recycling program, please do not send shoes to the address given in the message. Instead, call Nike's toll-free number for proper instructions: 1-800-352-6453 (option #3).

Here's what the hoax message looks like:

Subject: FW: FW: Free Shoes

Just a quick note to tell you about a program that Nike started to help make fields and playgrounds for the underprivileged from old tennis shoes.

All YOU have to do is send in your old tennis shoes (NO MATTER WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE) with a piece of paper that has your name and address on it, and Nike will send you a brand new pair back FREE OF COST!!! The tennis shoes you send DO NOT have to be Nike. Just as long as they are tennis shoes. It really is a worthwhile project, and it's helping a lot of young kids.
Here is the address:

Nike Recycling Center
c/o Reuse-A-Shoe
26755 SW 95th Street
Wilsonville, OR 97070

Please send in your shoes. Otherwise you are just going to throw them away and they go to waste. This way someone can get some use out of them.

Nike really does send you a BRAND NEW pair of shoes even if you send in K-Swiss. Pass this to anyone and everyone you know so everybody can help out.

This is the second Internet prank to victimize the public in Nike's name so far this year. Another chain letter in circulation since February alleges that Nike is helping Microsoft test its new "email tracing software" (which doesn't exist) and handing out gift certificates to randomly selected participants (see the Hoax Advisory published February 25).

In press release issued today, Nike condemned both ongoing hoaxes. "Nike never sends unsolicited e-mails over the Internet," said Scott Reames, Nike corp. communications manager. "We do not condone these e-mail hoaxes, and are dismayed that well-intentioned people are being duped into wasting their time."


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