Knight is now 83, and since founding Nike in 1964 he’s built a fortune worth about $60 billion. He’s hardly the only American billionaire to take advantage of lawful tax-avoidance tricks—filings show JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, Zoom Video Communications Inc. founder Eric Yuan, and many others employ such tools. The family of Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton pioneered one of the techniques Knight appears to have used. But because Nike is publicly traded and both Knight and his surviving son, Travis, play roles on the company’s board and must report their stock transactions, theirs is the rare case that can be examined in detail from public filings, exposing a process that’s usually shrouded in secrecy. Bloomberg Businessweek identified about $9.3 billion in Nike shares and other assets Knight has moved to his descendants, starting in 2009. The full total could be more.
The rich always find loopholes. As a percentage of income, it is the poor who pay the most taxes.
Because stock-market investors are always going to be thinking: “They could always turn the dial from market share to profits. Just raise prices a skootch, and reap the harvest. In spades.”
But: they never do. It’s like a perpetual-motion machine, or holding yourself up by your own bootstraps. All that rising valuation is eternally based on the fact that they could raise prices and deliver profit (and yes: they could). In the meantime the business both generates and has massive value. It employs 270,000 people, delivers zillions in employee compensation, pays zillions more to suppliers, receives hundreds of billions in revenues, and dominates whole segments of multiple industries. Are there really no “profits”? Nobody’s being irrational here.