Nike Sues MSCHF over Lil Nas X's Custom 'Satan' Air Max 97 Sneakers

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMarch 29, 2021

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2006 file photo, the red Nike swoosh marks the entrance to the company's headquarters campus in Beaverton, Ore. Nike wants to expand its Oregon operations and hire as many as 12,000 new workers by 2020 but wants the government to promise it won't change the state tax code. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber says he'll call the Legislature into session Friday to create a law to give Nike its promise. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)
Don Ryan/Associated Press

Following the release of Lil Nas X's custom "Satan Shoes," made using Nike Air Max 97s, the sneaker giant quickly distanced itself from the rapper's collaboration and said it had nothing to do with the shoes that contain a drop of real human blood.

Nike took things further than a press release on Monday, suing MSCHF, the art collective behind the sneakers, in U.S. District Court for trademark infringement, false designation of origin/unfair competition violation, trademark dilution, common law trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Nick DePaula @NickDePaula

To clarify: These are simply customs and not an official release. Statement from Nike: “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.” https://t.co/qQnKEYkhcS

The shoes were released in conjunction with the newest single and music video from Lil Nas X, "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," with all 666 pairs selling out in less than a minute, per CNN's Oscar Holland and Jacqui Palumbo

While Nike Air Max 97s typically cost between $150-$200, the Satan Shoes sold for $1,018 a piece—a reference to the Bible passage Luke 10:18 that describes Satan falling from heaven. 

The sole of the shoes contains red ink with a drop of human blood mixed in. 

A MSCHF spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Nike was not involved with the project "in any capacity."

Lil Nas X jokingly responded to the lawsuit on his Twitter account using gifs from SpongeBob SquarePants after explaining both the song and shoes are meant to evoke outrage in those who discriminated against him as a member of the LGBTQ community. 

nope 🏹 @LilNasX

me after the nike lawsuit https://t.co/XVLjHlSrru

"I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s--t y’all preached would happen to me because I was gay," Lil Nas X tweeted. "So I hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves."

nope 🏹 @LilNasX

i thought y’all didn’t like political correctness. what happened? 😫😢

nope 🏹 @LilNasX

i’ll be honest all this backlash is putting an emotional toll on me. i try to cover it with humor but it’s getting hard. my anxiety is higher than ever and stream call me by your name on all platforms now!

The rapper also posted a mock apology video that instead cuts to a clip of his music video. 

Nike did not name Lil Nas X as a defendant but claims the suit is about "setting the record straight" on the sneakers in the wake of calls to boycott the brand by those who believe the company was involved in the creation and release of the shoes.