Calling All Sneakerheads!

Ann Herbert, the VP and general manager for Nike North America who also worked on the SNKRS app, stepped down on March 1st, 2021. This shocked countless individuals because she worked at Nike for over 25 years. Right before she announced her decision there was news of her son spending $132,000 on shoes with her credit card. Soon after, it was discovered that he also had a sneaker reselling business, which is an extremely lucrative market. But was this enough for Ann to step down, or is there more of this story to yet come out?

First, let’s get an understanding of sneaker culture. Nike is constantly releasing shoes, but these shoes are not running shoes one could find in a Kohls or DSW. These shoes sell out in minutes, sometimes in seconds. This could be a “Off-white” or “Supreme” collab, limited edition Jordans or collabs with celebrities. These shoes are sold for a premium after they are released. For some perspective, Jordan 1’s UNC colorway came out March 6th and was sold by Nike for $170. Within a minute of release they were completely sold out and an hour later they were selling for $500. The sneaker resale business is a lucrative one.

Ann Hebert’s son used her credit card to buy $132,000 worth of sneakers. The use of her credit card is not illegal and is not what caused her to step down: it’s the fact that he managed to get $132,000 of sneakers. There are people who have never successfully bought a pair of these luxury shoes before, so how did he manage to buy so many? There are a few speculations as of right now. First, his mother (Ann Hebert) could have been backdooring sneakers for him this whole time, backdooring is the act of doing something without public or official knowledge and approval. The other speculation is that he was using illegal bots to ignore the coding on these websites so he could buy as many as he could get.

Since Ann stepped down, my thought is that there had to be something illegal going on. She could have been feeding her son information about specific drops or she could have been “backdooring” sneakers to him; either way, both are illegal. If she managed to backdoor these shoes, he would be guaranteed to make a profit off a sneaker drop. 

When I say bots, I am not talking about a robot that controls a computer. In this case, a bot is a program that bypasses all of the website’s constraints. Using these bots he would be able to ignore the quantity limit of 1 on these shoes and put the number he would want. Additionally, the bots would submit the form for the shoes faster than any human could, so he would be able to buy an insane amount of shoes. This is the best explanation to how he was able to spend $132,000 on shoes, and led to him making $20,000 in profit.

On March 9, Nike announced that they would finally be launching an “anti-bot technology” to increase consumer confidence. When this technology gets released, it will most likely work for a few drops and then life will return to how it is now.

All in all, sneaker resale is a growing business and as more people become interested, more people try to beat the system. If you are interested in a sneaker, plan on paying a premium for it. Odds are that you will not be able to get it the traditional way and you will have to buy it from a reseller for at least double the price.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/us/ann-hebert-nike.html
https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2935235-nike-to-audit-launch-process-after-ann-heberts-ties-to-sneaker-resale-business

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