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Nike not involved in Satan-themed sneaker release

March 29, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: The sports apparel company Nike is working with rapper Lil Nas X to release a shoe dedicated to Satan.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Partly false. Lil Nas X and New York-based art collective MSCHF are collaborating to release 666 pairs of a Satan-themed sneaker made using Nike Air Max 97s. But Nike had no involvement in the project, spokespeople for both Nike and MSCHF confirmed.

THE FACTS: The music video for Lil Nas X’s new song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” shows the musician, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, descending into hell, dancing for Satan and claiming the devil’s horns as his own.

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Following the video’s release on March 25, MSCHF announced on its website that it would collaborate with the rapper on a limited release of “Satan shoes” — 666 pairs of black Nike Air Max 97 sneakers with a pentagram-shaped charm. MSCHF claimed the sneakers also contained a drop of human blood.

Responding to the news, thousands of social media users shared viral posts claiming Nike was responsible for the Satan-themed shoes.

“Nike & Lil Nas X will launch their new demonic shoes on March 29, 2021 for $1,018 USD,” read a Saturday Facebook post.

“Nike to Release a Shoe Dedicated to Satan with a Pentagram and Human Blood in It,” read a headline from the conservative website The Gateway Pundit that has since been corrected.

Fox News host Pete Hegseth also spread the false claim on Sunday’s “Fox and Friends Weekend” broadcast before being corrected by meteorologist Adam Klotz.

Nike sent The Associated Press a statement saying it did not participate in the development or marketing of the themed sneakers. 

“We do not have a relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF,” the statement read. “Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”

In a later statement, Nike said it filed a trademark infringement and dilution complaint against MSCHF on Monday “to stop the release of the Satan Shoes,” which were made “without Nike’s approval or authorization.” 

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MSCHF CEO Gabe Whaley told the AP in an email that Nike “did not have any involvement whatsoever” in the project. MSCHF purchased the shoes from Nike, then made its own modifications to the shoes before marketing them, Whaley confirmed.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536