Zion’s infamous blown-out Nike sneaker surfaces at public auction

Believed to be destroyed, the shoe will sell at Goldin in June for first time

Cover Image for Zion’s infamous blown-out Nike sneaker surfaces at public auction
Zion Williamson blew out his shoe and injured his knee in the first minute of a 2019 game against rival North Carolina. (Getty Images)

Long believed to be destroyed by Nike, arguably the most famous single shoe in sports history is hitting the auction block.

Zion Williamson's blown-out sneaker from his game against North Carolina has been consigned to Goldin Auctions for their May Elite sale, the auction house revealed Wednesday.

The auction opens Friday and ends June 8. Goldin says the consignor would like to remain anonymous.

On Feb. 20, 2019, Williamson's left shoe blew out less than one minute into the massive rivalry and injured his knee. The injury essentially ended the game, as UNC went on to win by 16.

The shoe has serious value just because the moment is so iconic, but the fact that Williamson has not lived up to his sky-high expectations likely plays a part in it being a less expensive item that it would have been years ago.

Williamson's career has been defined more by his sitting on the bench than what he has done on the court. In his five seasons, he has missed 54 percent of the Pelicans games.

The game was one of the most expensive tickets in college basketball history. The get-in price on the secondary market was $2,500 at game time at Cameron Indoor. One of the fans was President Barack Obama, who pointed at Williamson as his sole split.

“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery," Nike said in a statement late that night. "The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

Nike said they would investigate what had happened. If they did, the shoe and apparel company never revealed the results of the investigation. Neither did Williamson, who undoubtedly used that to his advantage when he was negotiating an endorsement deal with Nike. After he turned pro and was drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, he signed a $75 million deal with the Jordan brand.

Two Nike executives, who have since left the company, told cllct they believed that the shoes were discarded so that they wouldn't see the light of day. We now know that is not the case.

The record sale for an unfortunate pair of Nikes, are the shoes Michael Jordan was said to have worn on Oct. 29, 1985 when he broke his foot. Lelands represented that those shoes were sold in Jan. 2022 for $422,130.

Tickets to the game have become very collectible though they are surprisingly scarce. PSA has graded two full tickets and four stubs. The stub sells for more than $1,000.

Darren Rovell is the founder of cllct.com and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectible market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.