Nike has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the designer of Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes, which released to social media furor on Monday.
The “Old Town Road” artist collaborated with the Brooklyn-based streetwear company MSCHF on the limited Satan Shoe release. Only 666 pairs of shoes went on sale today for $1,018, a reference to Luke 10:18, a Bible verse about Satan’s fall from heaven. The shoes immediately sold out, according to MSCHF.
The controversial, modified Nike Air Max 97s are decorated with a pentagram pendant, pentagram designs on the heel and an inverted cross on the tongue pull-tab. The sole air bubble contains 60 cc ink and one drop of human blood, according to a statement from MSCHF.
A Nike company spokesperson confirmed the legal action against the company on Monday in a statement emailed to USA TODAY.
“Nike filed a trademark infringement and dilution complaint against MSCHF today related to the Satan Shoes. We don’t have any further details to share on pending legal matters,” the statement read. “However, we can tell you we do not have a relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF. The Satan Shoes were produced without Nike’s approval or authorization, and Nike is in no way connected with this project.”
In a separate statement to the Associated Press, Nike said the company sought to “stop the release of the Satan Shoes.”
MSCHF CEO Gabe Whaley told the AP in an email that Nike “did not have any involvement whatsoever” in the project. MSCHF purchased the shoes from Nike, then made its own modifications to the shoes before marketing them, Whaley confirmed.
Lil Nas X, who is not being sued by Nike, posted a cartoon response to the lawsuit on Twitter that showed SpongeBob Square Pants begging for money. “Me after the Nike lawsuit,” the tweet stated.
USA TODAY has reached out to Lil Nas X and MSCHF for comment.
In the lawsuit, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Nike says MSCHF Product Studio materially altered its trademarked product without permission. The Oregon-based company is suing MSCHF for trademark infringement and dilution and unfair competition, seeking compensatory, statutory and punitive damages.
“The material alterations include at least referring to the shoe as the Satan Shoe, adding red ink and human blood to the midsole, adding red embroidered satanic-themed detailing, adding a bronze pentagram to the laces, and adding a new sock liner,” states the complaint.
“There is already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF’s Satan Shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorized or approved this product.”
The Satan Shoes follow the release of Lil Nas X’s devil-themed music video for his song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” the title track for his upcoming album. In the video, Lil Nas X gyrates on Satan’s lap.
The video:Fans praise Lil Nas X’s ‘Montero’ music video for being unapologetically queer
Rapper Joyner Lucas criticized Lil Nas X for his latest song, tweeting that “the biggest problem for me is the fact he don’t understand ‘old town road’ is every kids anthem.”
“Children love him for that record,” Lucas said. “They tuned in and subscribed to his channels. So with no disclaimer he just dropped some left field ish & all our kids seen it. smh.”
Lil Nas X responded sarcastically to the uproar on social media about the shoes by posting a YouTube video on Sunday called “Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe,” which was actually a video cut of him dancing provocatively with Satan.
USA TODAY has reached out to Lil Nas X for further comment.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota decried the “exclusive” shoes on Twitter.
“Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it’s ‘exclusive.’ But do you know what’s more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul,” Noem wrote Sunday. “We are in a fight for the soul of our nation.”
Lil Nas X responded to the tweet, writing, “(You are) a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!”
Clemson quarterback stand-out Trevor Lawrence tweeted critically about the shoes Sunday, writing, “Line has to be drawn somewhere. Smh.”
Miley Cyrus tweeted a series of photos Monday of hewearing the shoes. “Can you see Satan?,” Cyrus wrote.
Lil Nas X worked to get in the last fashion word about the product on Twitter.
“Y’all gotta admit… the shoes hard!” he wrote. “U cannot sit here and lie.”