Almost everyone who purchases a lottery ticket has an idea what they’d do with the winnings. Maybe pay off the house, help out family and donate to charity.
But would they really follow through if they won?
For Harry Do, a 20-year-old Gainesville man, the answer to that question is clear.
Do is a self-described sneaker enthusiast, a retail worker and a budding entrepreneur. He dreams of one day becoming a philanthropist and helping the world in a major way.
Do didn’t buy a Georgia Lottery or Powerball ticket, but instead spent $10 on a raffle with the chance to score some uber-exclusive Nikes.
Just days later, he owned those Nikes, which are so exclusive that selling them might pay for a modest house or a Ferrari.
A pair of the shoes was auctioned off in Hong Kong on Oct. 11. They sold for $104,000. On Nov. 12, another pair sold in New York for $200,000.
But Do, who is obsessed with sneakers and owns more than 50 pairs, is holding tight to his possession. After all, sentimental value can’t be measured in dollars.
“Each shoe has a story to it,” he said. “Most people are in it for the money. Me, it’s the story. Sentimental value means more to me than anything.”
And these shoes come with quite a story.
The prototype appears in the 1989 movie “Back to the Future Part II.” They are the shoes discovered by Marty McFly when he enters the distant future — Oct. 21, 2015.
The Nikes lace themselves automatically. “Power laces, all right!” exclaims Michael J. Fox’s character in the film.
In reality, there were no self-lacing shoes in 1989. The laces were strapped down from below using a false floor. There weren’t any self-lacing shoes at all until Oct. 21, 2015, actually rolled around.
On that date, Fox was given the first pair of 89 self-lacing Nike Mags based on the ones in the film. Powered by rechargeable batteries and sensors in the sole detecting weight, these actually lace by themselves. Small buttons inside the shoes can be used to loosen the laces and activate lights, which last between three and four hours on a single charge.
There’s more to the tale. Fox has waged a long, public battle with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system affecting movement.
He was diagnosed with the disease in 1991, and later founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has spent more than $600 million on Parkinson’s research since 2000. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, and 10 million people live with it worldwide.
Rather than selling the shoes directly to the public, Nike teamed up with the Fox Foundation to raise money for the charity. In October, the company sold $10 raffle tickets for the remaining pairs of self-lacing Nike Mags. It raised a total of $6.95 million for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
“People who love sneakers and people who love ‘Back to the Future,’ it’s like a perfect storm,” said Fox, now 55, sporting the shoes on camera during an appearance on “Good Morning America.” “In 2011, Nike put up 1,500 pairs for auction and it raised $10 million for the foundation.”
This is where Do enters the story. Last month, he bought a single ticket for the new contest at literally the last possible hour, figuring the odds were slim to none but the money was going to a good cause. Four days later, his ticket was a winner, though it took a while for him to realize it.
“The email telling me I won went to my spam folder,” Do said. “I had no idea.”
Do works at Nike’s North Georgia Premium Outlets location. As an employee, he wasn’t supposed to enter the raffle, so he entered his mother, Christina Do, instead.
When the company called to inform her she won the exclusive shoes, she didn’t know what they were talking about.
Christina Do called her son to see what was going on. He knew right away, and that led to the classic lottery winner moment.
“I kept jumping around,” said Do, who often sports Nike shoes, Nike socks and Nike shorts all in tandem. “I was just in shock. It’s the sneaker lottery in a sense.”
As with all things, supply and demand plays a large role in the sneaker world. The 1,500 pairs of Nike Mags released in 2011 can go for up to $10,000 online. When there are only 89 pairs available in the entire world, that value jumps exponentially.
Do already knows how he’d split the funds. He’d designate 25 percent to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, 25 percent for his future nonprofit, 25 percent for friends and family and the remainder for his future business ventures.
There’s tremendous pressure from family and friends to put the kicks up for auction, but he’s not selling. The sentimental value is too high. Besides, the shoes are more likely to gain value.
“I entered because I knew it was for a good cause,” Do said. “But of course, I wanted the shoes.”
Do, who became obsessed with sneakers after joining his middle school basketball team, attends sneaker conventions and religiously follows sneaker YouTube channels like KickGenius. He’s working on his own clothing line, Coastal Motive. In the meantime, Nike didn’t mind his skirting of the contest rules, so he remains a committed company employee.
Like anyone with an obsession, shoes are about more than just mesh, rubber and leather, or even design and fashion. Shoes are about the hype and the experience. Each pair reminds him of a memory, a place in time.
“Each shoe has a story to it,” Do said.
This one will be hard to top.