Fact check: Nike is not involved in Lil Nas X and MSCHF’s ‘Satan Shoes’ collaboration

The claim: Nike will release ‘Satan Shoes’ with brand MSCHF and artist Lil Nas X

Clothing brand MSCHF and recording artist Lil Nas X announced the release of limited edition “Satan Shoes” on March 26 and social media had a field day. The shoes, Nike Air Max ‘97s decorated with a pentagram and ink partially dyed with human blood, celebrate Nas X’s new song “Montero.”

This comes amid controversy surrounding the “Montero” music video in which Nas X’s character travels to hell, seduces the devil and steals his horns. Social media users have criticized the shoe design for honoring Satan.

“Nike to Release a Shoe Dedicated to Satan with a Pentagram and Human Blood in it – In a Limited Edition of 666 Pairs,” reads a widely shared meme.

Other social media users have shared posts that tie the product to Nike. 

While the shoes do include a pentagram and ink dyed with one drop of human blood, Nike has repeatedly denied involvement in the shoes’ design and sale. 

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USA TODAY reached out to several Facebook users about the claim.

Shoes have pentagram and human blood 

Nas X created the shoes in collaboration with art collective MSCHF, which is known for its nontraditional work. According to a statement obtained by CNN, MSCHF collected blood from art collective members for the ink.  

Fashion brand SAINT announced on March 26 that 666 pairs of Satan Shoes would sell for $1,018 a pair. 

Nas X has stood by the shoes despite criticism.

“Montero” is titled after Nas X’s legal first name. On the day of the music video’s release, Nas X tweeted a letter to his younger self about the song and his sexuality –the rapper came out as gay in 2019, USA TODAY reported.

“y’all love saying we going to hell but get upset when i actually go there lmao,” he wrote in another March 26 tweet.

Nike was not involved in the design and release of the shoes

MSCHF CEO Gabe Whaley told the Associated Press that Nike “did not have any involvement whatsoever” in shoe’s design or release.

On March 29, Nike sued MSCHF for trademark infringement and dilution and unfair competition. The complaint, obtained by the Hollywood reporter, alleges MSCHF materially altered Nike shoes without the brand’s permission.

“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,” Nike contends in the complaint.

Meme creator clarifies Nike was not involved

The meme includes a logo for The Gateway Pundit, a conservative news outlet that initially posted the image to Instagram on March 27. 

“Lil Nas X teams up with MSCHF to release a limited quantity of ‘Satan Shoes,’ a Nike Air Max 97 custom. A shoe dedicated to Satan complete with a pentagram and a drop of human blood in each shoe,” reads the post. “The shoe also contains the numbers 666 and come in a limited edition of 666 pairs…The left are canceling children’s books but not Satan.”

Lil Nas X poses with the awards for Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Old Tow Road" in the photo room during the 62nd annual GRAMMY Awards on Jan. 26, 2020. (Photo: Dan MacMedan, USA TODAY Network )

The Gateway Pundit has since updated its corresponding article to reflect that Nike was not involved in the shoes’ creation. “Nike said they did not collaborate on the production of the Satanic shoes by Lil Nas,” reads the update. 

USA TODAY asked The Gateway Pundit why the meme and false claim remained on Instagram without correction on March 29. The Gateway Pundit removed the original post and did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

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The inaccurate meme is still visible on other social media accounts.

Our rating: Partly false

We rate this claim PARTLY FALSE because some of it is not supported by our research. Art collective MSCHF and singer Lil Nas X have announced the sale of limited edition “Satan Shoes” that include a pentagram and human blood. The shoes are specially designed Nike Air Max ‘97s. Nike has repeatedly denied involvement in the collaboration. 

Our fact check sources:

  • SAINT, March 26, tweet
  • USA TODAY, March 26, “Fans praise Lil Nas X’s ‘Montero’ music video for being unapologetically queer”
  • YouTube, Lil Nas X, March 26, “Lil Nas X – MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) (Official Video)”
  • CNN, March 29, “Lil Nas X’s unofficial ‘Satan’ Nikes containing human blood sell out in under a minute”
  • Lil Nas X, March 26, tweet
  • Lil Nas X, March 26, tweet
  • USA TODAY, March 29, “Nike sues Satan Shoes maker MSCHF over trademark infringement; Lil Nas X responds on Twitter”
  • Associated Press, March 29, “Nike not involved in Satan-themed sneaker release”
  • The Hollywood Reporter, March 29, “Nike Sues MSCHF Over Lil Nas X Satan Shoes”
  • The Gateway Pundit, March 27, “EVIL: Lil Nas X and MSCHF Release Nike Shoe Dedicated to Satan with a Pentagram and Human Blood in it – In a Limited Edition of 666 Pairs”
  • The Gateway Pundit, accessed March 29, removed Instagram post

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook. 

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