(Greek: goddess of victory in Greek mythology; literally, victory)

Nike was the Greek personification of victory. She was a divine being, but unlike the Roman Victoria, she had no special temples or festivals. Nike appears mainly in the company of other deities, notably Zeus and Pallas Athena. Nike is identified by the Romans with the goddess Victoria.

Nike is winged, holds a laurel and palm branch, and sometimes stands on a ball. A temple to her still remains on the Acropolis.

Greek goddess of Victory

She was the daughter of the giant Pallas and the river Styx according to Hesiod. Fought on the side of Zeus against the Titans. Was initially associated with Pallas Athena, and both Athena and Zeus have been depicted carrying small figures of Nike, indicating that she is an attribute of both of them. When with Athena, Nike is always wingless. When alone, she is always winged. Nike appears carrying a palm branch, wreath, or a caduceus of Hermes. She's frequently seen flying above a victor in a competition. She eventually came to be seen as a mediator of success between man and the gods.

Nike missiles

In 1954, at the height of the Cold War (and 16 years before the shoe company of the same name appeared), the United States Department of Defense introduced a new missile defense system. The system, unlike those before it, was a guided missile system, with a range to defend cities from up to 75 miles away by the program's end.

The first Nike incarnation was the Ajax. Effective up to 25 miles with a top speed of Mach 2.5, they were used from the program's start into the mid-1960s. They carried normal explosive warheads. In 1958, the upgraded Hercules missile was introduced, which increased the range to 75 miles, increased speed to Mach 3.6, and added nuclear capability.

Nike sites were deployed as a ring around several large, important cities; for example, New York City had no less than 19 sites surrounding it, and Washington, D.C. had about a dozen of them, scattered through out the suburbs. With the coming of SALT I in the early 1970s, the Nike sites were decommissioned. Most of them were simply abandoned; one of the sites on the Lorton Reformatory complex was converted into a jail. One site in the San Francisco area, SF-88, was transferred to the National Park Service for future use as a museum, and in 1984, the Military Vehicle Collector's Club began restoring it. It's now open for tours.

While their days in the US are over, the system still sees use elsewhere. South Korea still has 200 Hercules missiles in full service.

Nike, the shoe company

"What started with a handshake between two running geeks in sleepy Eugene, Oregon, is now the world's most competitive sports and fitness company."

In 1962, Bill Bowerman, track coach at the University of Oregon and student, Phil Knight founded Blue Ribbon Sports. Later the company was renamed Nike after the Greek goddess of victory. Company sales have grown from $8,000 during the first year to $4,819,000,000 (billion, that is) in 2001, a 602,375 percent increase.

Currently Nike is estimated to have 22,000 employees world wide, half of which work in the United States. Nike facilities includes 17 Niketown stores, over 70 Nike factory stores, two Nike Goddess boutiques, and over 100 sales and administrative offices. In addition to Nike's production of the "swoosh adorning products", people are usually familiar with, the company also owns Cole Hann, known for casual men's and women's footwear and accessories, Bauer Nike Hockey, leading producer of hockey equipment, and Hurely International, focusing on "teen lifestyle" clothing and accessories.

Nike headquarters is located in Portland, Oregon and consists of sixteen buildings, 175 acres of land, and numerous sports facilities for their employees. "If you have a body, you are an athlete" are words spoken by Bill Bowerman and words that the Nike corporation strives to live and grow by.