Nike’s Sexist “Gold Digging” Shirt Under Fire

Nike's new Gold Digger t-shirtNike was an official outfitter for the London Olympics this year, but we're starting to question the brand's team spirit. A controversial Olympics-inspired Nike t-shirt is on the market emblazoned with the phrase "Gold Digging." Since the garment is only available for women, fashion bloggers and the Twittersphere are calling it sexist. Apparently only women--or female Olympians--are gold diggers.

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Was there not another more positive, inspiring phrase Nike could have printed on these women's tees? "Reach for the Gold," "Go for the Gold," or "Good as Gold," would have gotten the point across in Nike's trademark "Just Do It" sort of way. A gold digger is a woman out for a man's money. In this Olympic context, a phrase like "Gold Digging" implies you don't deserve or didn't earn your prize, and you went about obtaining it in a deceitful or unsportsmanlike way. The American women at the Olympics this year worked hard for their medals, and took home twice as many golds as their male counterparts.

Here's a complete list of US Olympian medalists

But this hasn't stopped many major retailers from carrying, and almost selling out of Nike's "Gold Digger" t-shirt. The style, which comes in black, grey, or white with gold lettering, is currently available at Footlocker, Finish Line, Sports Authority, Nordstrom, and Eastbay for $24.99. Some sites have put the shirt on sale, most likely since the Olympic games have ended.

Nike's own website lists the "Gold Digging" shirt as "Style that starts a conversation." And start a conversation it certainly has. The item description says, "When nothing less than the best will do, the Nike 'Gold Digging' Women's T-Shirt is up to the challenge with a bold design that's a treat on the eyes in a slim, comfortable fit."

One online store called the World Soccer Shop apparently saw the potentially offensive connotations of the t-shirt and listed it with the following statement "We aren't saying they're gold diggers - we're just saying they're out for the gold! What's wrong with that?"

Many people see something wrong with it.

Fashion blog Styleite, who wrote about the t-shirt, tweeted, "US ladies win two-thirds of the country's gold medals at the Olympics, and @Nike rewards them with this sexist tee." One man on Twitter agreed, writing, "Really, @nike, really?! You're going with "Gold Digging" for one of the #USWNT Olympic shirts? Super sexist." One woman asked, "Is this #Olympics pride? Big surprise not avail in Men sizes." Another man tweeted, "What do you know - Olympic sponsors (corporate exporters) NIKE design Sexist 'gold-digger' women's shirts. New low."

On the other hand, some people are appreciating Nike's tongue-in-cheek Olympics shirt. "I've gotten so many compliments or laughs at my shirt I'm wearing 'Gold digging' #nike," one woman said on Twitter. Another user laughed, "Truth hurts!!" A college girl Tweeted, "I can think of a few girls on this campus who should wear this." One woman wrote, "I want one," while another asked aloud, "Seriously...is this really a big deal?"

Nike did not immediately respond to calls for comment. Since the "Gold Digging" t-shirts were so widely distributed and are already on sale in many places, it's doubtful the items will be pulled. Do you think Nike should apologize for their poorly worded tee, or do you think people are overreacting to just another silly t-shirt slogan? Let us know in the comments.

This is not the first time Nike has come under fire pertaining to the Olympics this year. The The U.S. women's soccer team was subject of ridicule for wearing Nike t-shirts reading "Greatness Has Been Found" after its gold-medal win over Japan. People found the slogan smug and inappropriate. Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times tweeted, "Greatness has been found,' but not humility. Gross," while SI.com's Courtney Nguyen agreed. "Put those t-shirts away, USA," she tweeted. "Keep it classy."

In addition, Nike's controversial TV ad featuring a 200-pound boy running made headlines at the start of the London games. Watch the clip below.

UPDATE: Nike contacted us with the following statement on their “Gold Digging” shirts:
“Nike has consistently supported female athletes and the position they enjoy as positive role models. The t-shirt uses a phrase in an ironic way that is relevant given it was released just as the world focused on the success of female athletes.”



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