You know we as a society have hit peak conspiracy theory and UFO saturation when these elements of our cultural consciousness and folklore start popping up in unexpected and high-profile places: mass media, professional sports leagues, and even the halls of the U.S. government. UFOs, the paranormal, and all things conspiracy-related may be hot right now, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for the legitimate study of these phenomena and theories.
Usually, when these elements of the anomalous pop up in our popular culture they are depicted in a satirical or derisive manner, further reinforcing the popular notion that these phenomena or theories are all pure fantasy and that people who pursue their serious study are kooks, nutjobs, or tin-foil-wearing crazies.
We can all thank Nike for driving that fact home with the release of a new line of sneakers slated for 4/20, of all days. The new Nike Kyrie 5 UFO sneakers are covered in imagery suggestive of anomalous aerial phenomena and some of the most pervasive conspiracy theories in the contemporary zeitgeist. Why would the world’s largest manufacturer of athletic shoes make a sneaker covered in Fortean imagery?
Because the shoe is inspired by and named after NBA All-Star and infamous flat Earther Kyrie Irving, of course. Irving has become as well-known for his off-court musings on some of the more tin-foil-covered conspiracy theories as he is for his on-court performance. Aside from espousing flat Earth propaganda, Irving has publicly stated that he believes the Federal Reserve had JFK assassinated, the Illuminati control the world, the moon landings were fake, and that the CIA once tried to murder Bob Marley. Who knows, maybe he’s right. Probably not.
The new Kyrie 5 UFO sneakers feature imagery ranging from the all-seeing Eye of Providence, the star-filled night sky, a classic flying saucer with a basketball for a dome, and sport a trippy tie-dye color scheme. I have to admit: they’re objectively awesome. See here for photos.
The Kyrie 5 UFO will be available only through the Nike SNKRS app on April 20 at 10 a.m. EST for the totally-not-ridiculously-marked-up price of just $130 USD. Some of that money will go to pay off Nike’s licensing agreement with Kyrie Irving, who makes $20,099,188 a year before merchandise licensing deals. According to the 1995 documentary Behind the Swoosh, it costs Nike about $13 in labor and materials to make an average pair of ~$100 foam and fabric sneakers in Indonesian sweatshops.
I smell a real conspiracy here.