Nike Picks the Winner of Its 'Ease Challenge' Design Contest for Special Needs Shoes

Brand Invited Design Submissions for Athletes of All Abilities

Published On
Apr 27, 2017

Editor's Pick

Last October, Nike announced that it would hold a contest, the Nike Ease Challenge, inviting people to design shoes for athletes of all abilities. Contestants were invited to create innovations that would help people more easily put on, secure and take off their shoes.

The winner -- architectural engineer Brett Drake from Cheynne, Wyoming -- has finally been chosen, as seen in this video, in which Nike reveals something of the process, the judging and the other two finalists. who visited Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon earlier this month.

Drake's submission takes the support system in the 2016 Nike Hyperdunk and re-engineers it into an adaptive fit system. "The initial inspiration was from rear entry snowboard bindings. I questioned how I could create a system where a mid or high top shoe could be slipped on rather than pulled on," he explained in a statement. "This is where the hinged heel came into play. By allowing the heel to hinge near the midsole and rotate back the athlete can then slide their foot into the shoe."

In addition to winning the $50,000 first prize, Drake will collaborate with Nike on the prototype shoe and begin testing his innovation with real-life athletes.

The panel of judges included Nike Chairman and CEO, Mark Parker, the inventor of Nike FlyEase Tobie Hatfield, his muse for the project Matthew Walzer, nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne and Paralympic medal winner Tatyana McFadden