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NIKE, PART II: HEAVEN'S GATE GIVES COMPANY MORE INK
Published April 1, 1997
The 39 victims of the Rancho Santa Fe mass suicide were all wearing brand new black Nike running shoes, a fact that was picked up in the weekend press. A former Heaven's Gate cult member named Sawyer, on CBS' "60 Minutes," was asked by Lesley Stahl why the victims were wearing Nikes. Sawyer: "It was just a fun kind of uniform ... something - something to go into the - to - it was kind of representative of moving into the new ... level, being fresh and clean" ("60 Minutes," CBS, 3/30). Nike execs were "puzzled" by the "numerous" media calls about sneakers worn by the victims, according to the N.Y. POST. Nike spokesperson McClain Ramsey: "This is a tragedy - it's not about shoes or clothes, it's about a great American tragedy" (N.Y. POST, 3/30). In San Diego, Uri Berliner: "If this is publicity Nike doesn't relish, it was perhaps inevitable, given the wide swath the image-setting company cuts across the popular culture" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/29). In Hartford, under the header "Suicides May Put Nike In Spotlight," Matthew Kauffman noted, "Bizarre publicity can still affect a company that finds itself inadvertently in the news" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/1).