All summer long, Refinery29 will be examining cults from every angle: pop culture, fashion, food, beauty, and their controversial origins. Let’s dig into the fascination behind this fervor with “Cult Fridays.”
Recently, a two-year-old Reddit post resurfaced, written by someone who claimed to have met the man who sold 39 matching pairs of Nikes to the infamous Heaven’s Gate cult the day before their mass suicide in March 1997.
According to the post, a young man had just started his very first job at a San Diego Nike store when Heaven’s Gate’s cult leader Marshall Applewhite walked in, decided he liked the black Nike Cortez model, and presented the salesman with a list of sizes. In the OP’s (“original poster” in internet forum parlance) own words:
“Nike dude asks him, ‘Oh, is this for a basketball team or something?’ Cult guy’s actual reply, ‘Something…like that.’ They have all the shoes there but one last size, and he calls another store and finds them for him because he’s so such a great employee, and even delivers them to his address. Cut to the next day and he sees the news and he sees that the address is the exact same address he delivered the shoes to.”
On March 26, 1997, police discovered the bodies of 39 men and women in a San Diego mansion. The Heaven’s Gate members, dressed in matching all-black tracksuits, had taken a combination of phenobarbital and alcohol and then suffocated themselves with plastic bags. In the photographs and videos of the scene that circulated around the world, the Nike swoosh was clear on the sneakers poking out from underneath purple shrouds.
According to the OP, this Nike employee, who had been so proud of his large sale after just a few days on the job, felt guilty for his role …read more