Nike’s Sexist “Gold Digging” Shirt Under Fire

Joanna Douglas, Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor
FashionAugust 15, 2012

Nike was an official outfitter for the London Olympics this year, but we're starting to question their team spirit. A controversial Olympics-inspired Nike t-shirt is on the market emblazoned with the phrase "Gold Digging." Since the garment is only available for women, fashion bloggers and the Twittersphere are calling the shirt sexist. Apparently only women--or female Olympians--are gold diggers.

Controversial Adidas "shackle" sneakers never made it to stores

Was there not another more positive, inspiring phrase Nike could printed on these women's tees? "Reach for the Gold," "Go for the Gold," or "Good as Gold," would have gotten the point across in Nike's trademark "Just Do It" sort of way. A gold digger is a woman out for a man's money. In this Olympic context, a phrase like "Gold Digging" implies you don't deserve or didn't earn your prize, and you went about obtaining it in a deceitful or unsportsmanlike way. The women on the US Olympics team this year worked very hard for their medals. In fact, they took home twice as many gold medals than their male counterparts!

Here's a complete list of US Olympian medalists

But this hasn't stopped many major retailers from carrying, and almost selling out of Nike's "Gold Digger" t-shirt. The style, which comes in black, grey, or white with gold lettering, is currently available at Footlocker, Finish Line, Sports Authority, Nordstrom, And Eastbay for $24.99. Some sites have put the shirt on sale, most likely since the Olympic games have ended.

Nike's own website lists the "Gold Digging" shirt as "Style that starts a conversation." And start a conversation it certainly has. The item description says, "When nothing less than the best will do, the Nike 'Gold Digging' Women's T-Shirt is up to the challenge with a bold design that's a treat on the eyes in a slim, comfortable fit."

One online store called the World Soccer Shop apparently saw the potentially offensive connotations of the t-shirt and listed it with the following statement "We aren't saying they're gold diggers - we're just saying they're out for the gold! What's wrong with that?"

Many people see something wrong with it.

Fashion blog Styleite, who wrote about the t-shirt, Tweeted, "US ladies win two-thirds of the country's gold medals at the Olympics, and @Nike rewards them with this sexist tee." One man on Twitter agreed, writing, "Really, @nike, really?! You're going with "Gold Digging" for one of the #USWNT Olympic shirts? Super sexist." One woman asked, "Is this #Olympics pride? Big surprise not avail in Men sizes." Another man Tweeted, "What do you know - Olympic sponsors (corporate exporters) NIKE design Sexist 'gold-digger' women's shirts. New low."

On the other hand, some people are appreciating Nike's tongue-in-cheek Olympics shirt. "I've gotten so many compliments or laughs at my shirt I'm wearing 'Gold digging' #nike," one woman said on Twitter. Another user laughed, "Truth hurts!!" A college girl Tweeted, "I can think of a few girls on this campus who should wear this." One woman wrote, "I want one," while another asked aloud, "Seriously...is this really a big deal?"

We reached out to Nike about the controversy, but they have not responded as of press time. Since the "Gold Digger" t-shirts were so widely distributed and are already on sale in many places, it's doubtful the items will be pulled. Do you think Nike should apologize for their poorly worded tee, or do you think people are overreacting to just another silly t-shirt slogan? Let us know in the comments.

Also noteworthy: this is not the first time Nike has come under fire in pertaining to the Olympics this year. Their controversial TV ad featuring a 200-pound boy running made headlines at the start of the London games. You can watch the clip below.



Related links:
Adidas "Shackle" Sneakers Create Controversy
Fitness Controversy: Women Olympians Say, "We're Fit, Not Fat-Get Over It!"
How to wear sneakers when you're not an athlete or a rapper

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