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The Truth About The Feud Between Sega And Nike

Back in the 90s, Sega was arguably at its peak and was even considered a massive competitor against Nintendo. With Sonic as the company's mascot and the overall solid Genesis at its disposal, it seemed like the company was heading onwards and upwards. Despite its many successes, Sega eventually found itself at the center of a ton of controversies that would chip away at the company's reputation. No gaming company is perfect, but Sega was really entering a league of its own.


When Sega wasn't inadvertently pulling the rug out from under retailers, it was feuding with Nike. The shoe corporation sued Sega in 2002, alleging that the gaming company had completely stolen an ad that was originally conceived by Nike. Sega and Nike would eventually find themselves in a legal battle for the ages. The drama that ensued from this event would leave a stain on Sega's rep.

How Sega dropped the ball

Back in 2001, Nike aired an ad featuring Michael Jordan that was titled "Frozen Moment." The commercial showed the iconic basketball player making a dramatic slam dunk in slow motion, as clips of mesmerized children and adults played in between. 


When Sega was getting ready to launch NBA 2K2 for the Dreamcast, it released a commercial that was strikingly similar, albeit with some minor differences. Instead of shocked people, Sega's commercial had random slow-mo clips of a mouse running in a wheel alongside a flaming ironing board. Sadly this bizarre footage wasn't enough to stop Nike from hitting Sega with a lawsuit accusing the video game company of copying its commercial.

In the end, Sega had ultimately decided to settle and paid for the entirety of the legal fees. To add insult to injury, Nike also demanded that Sega donate $100,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, pull the ad, and issue an apology. 

In a statement, Sega wrote that its commercial "understandably tarnished Nike's feelings towards Sega," and that the company did not "intend to show any disrespect to the Nike brand or athletes with its advertisement." Although this wasn't a win for Sega, at least a charitable organization benefited from this mess.