Meet Phil Knight, The Richest Accountant In The World
Phil Knight

Accountancy is a very lucrative career, with the increasing demand for accountants across the world. Whichever type of accounting you choose to practice, whether you are practicing privately or working for a firm, you will be financially stable as long as you are good at your job.

Accounting is the systematic practice of recording and analyzing financial transactions for decision-making and to make sure a business operates efficiently and profitably.

An accountant is someone who does accounting functions in an entity. Accountants work with financial records, inspecting an entity's finances to cut costs of operation and increase profits.

Previously, we wrote about the top six richest accountants in the word, this article will focus on Philip Hampson Knight, who is the richest accountant in the world.

Philip Hampson Knight, nicknamed "Buck" (born February 24, 1938), is an American business person and philanthropist. A native of Oregon, Knight is the co-founder and current chairman emeritus of Nike, Inc., a company he previously served as chairman and CEO. Forbes ranked Knight as the 21st richest person in the world as of October 2019, with an estimated net worth of US$37.6 billion. He also owns the stop motion film production company Laika.

Knight is an alum of the University of Oregon and Stanford Graduate School of Business. As a philanthropist, Knight has donated millions of dollars to each of his alma maters, including Oregon Health & Science University. He has donated over $2 billion to the three institutions in total.

Early life

Born in Portland, Oregon to Bill Knight, a lawyer turned newspaper publisher, and his wife, Lota (Hatfield) Knight, Phil Knight grew up in the Portland and attended Cleveland High School. As revealed by an undisclosed source, "After his father declined him a summer employment at his newspaper company [the now defunct Oregon Journal], believing that his son should get a job by himself," Knight "went to the rival Oregonian, where he worked the night shift tabulating sports scores and ran home the full seven miles every morning."

Knight continued his education at the University of Oregon (UO), in Eugene, where he is a graduate brother of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, was a sports reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald and earned a degree in journalism in 1959.

As a middle-distance runner at UO, his personal best was 1 mile (1.6 km) in 4 minutes, 10 seconds, and he won varsity letters for his track performances in 1957, 1958 and 1959. In 1977, alongside Bowerman and Geoff Hollister, Knight founded Athletics West, an American running team.

Early career

Before the Blue Ribbon Sports business now known as Nike flourished, Knight was a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), first with Coopers & Lybrand, and then Price Waterhouse. He later became an accounting professor at Portland State University (PSU).

Meet Phil Knight, The Richest Accountant In The World
Phil Knight and Wife

Nike Inc.

Immediately after graduating from the University of Oregon, Knight enlisted in the army and served on active duty for one year and seven years in the Army Reserve. He next enrolled at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where, for his small business class, Knight produced a paper, "Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?," that essentially premised his eventual foray into selling running shoes. In 1962, he graduated with a master's degree in business administration from Stanford.

After graduation, Knight set out on a trip around the world during which he stopped in Kobe, Japan in November 1962. There he discovered Tiger brand running shoes, manufactured by the Onitsuka Co. in Kobe. Impressed by the quality and low-cost of the shoes, Knight called Mr. Onitsuka, who agreed to meet with him. By the end of the meeting, Knight had secured Tiger distribution rights for the western United States.

The first Tiger samples would take more than a year before it could be shipped to Knight; he got a job as an accountant in Portland during that period. When he finally received the shoe samples, he mailed two pairs to Bowerman at the University of Oregon, hoping to gain both a sale and an influential endorsement. To Knight's surprise, Bowerman not only ordered the Tiger shoes, but also offered to become a partner with Knight and give product design ideas. The two men agreed to a partnership by handshake on January 25, 1964, the birth date of Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), the company that would later become Nike.

Knight's first sales was from a now storied green Plymouth Valiant automobile at track meets across the Pacific Northwest. By 1969, these early sales allowed Knight to quit his accountant job and work full-time for Blue Ribbon Sports.

Nike's first employee, Jeff Johnson suggested a change of name, calling the firm "Nike," after the Greek winged goddess of victory, and Blue Ribbon Sport was later renamed Nike in 1971.

Commissioned for US$35 from graphic design student Carolyn Davidson in 1971, Nike's "swoosh" logo is now considered as one of the world's most powerful brand logos. According to Nike's official website, Knight said at the time: "I don't love it, but it will grow on me." In September 1983, Knight gave Davidson an undisclosed amount of Nike stock for her contribution to the company's brand. In April 2011, on the Oprah television program as a guest, Knight claimed he gave "A few hundred shares" to Davidson when the company went public.