Trying to capitalize on a historic effort by the women of the U.S. Olympic team, Nike offered up a tribute via t-shirt. But what they thought was a clever play on words is being met with outrage.
Nike's "Gold Digging" t-shirt—available only in women's sizes—was meant to acknowledge the 46 gold medals won by American women at the 2012 Olympics in London.
But the phrase "gold digging" has for years been a reference to women who date wealthy men only for their money. Apparently aware Nike was possibly wading into dangerous waters, the description of the tee at World Soccer Shop tries to diffuse any controversy:
We aren’t saying they’re gold diggers – we’re just saying they’re out for the gold! What’s wrong with that?
Nike, for its part, describes the shirt on its website as "style that starts a conversation."
"When nothing less than the best will do, the Nike 'Gold Digging' Women's T-Shirt is up to the challenge with a bold design that's a treat on the eyes in a slim, comfortable fit," they write.
Nonetheless, Nike is being called out by some for suggesting that only women can be gold diggers.
"What’s wrong? Well, lots of things, actually," wrote Styleite. "For instance, does this shirt come in men’s sizes? Nope. Because gold digging is just for the ladies, of course! Come on, Nike."
Nike denies any charges of sexism, saying the shirt was meant to cast in a positive light the recent success of female athletes.
"Nike has consistently supported female athletes and the position they enjoy as positive role models," Nike said in a statement. "The t-shirt uses a phrase in an ironic way that is relevant given it was released just as the world focused on the success of female athletes."