Crowds overwhelmed shopping malls, a Montgomery County police officer was assaulted and several people were arrested locally in the frenzy surrounding the release of a new model of Air Jordans.
The shoes, which went on sale overnight Thursday, were even rumored to have led to the death of a Washington area man. The story of the homicide of Tyreek Jacobs spread through social media Friday even as police throughout the region said they had no credible report of such a crime — let alone a victim by the name of Jacobs or otherwise.
“RIP Tyreek AMIR Jacobs Killed For Jordan Concords,” read the title of one of several Facebook memorial pages on which strangers debated the veracity of the story and decried the alleged killing. It was unclear exactly when, where or how Jacobs was purported to have been killed.
Still, authorities were busy after the shoes’ release. Montgomery police said that four people were arrested Friday morning in Air Jordan-related incidents — three on disorderly conduct charges at Westfield Montgomery Mall in North Bethesda and one at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, where an officer was assaulted.
There were additional reports of overcrowding and unruly customers at other malls from Anne Arundel to Loudoun counties.
Across the nation, crowds hoping to buy the shoes gathered early, according to news reports. In Indianapolis, a mall’s door was torn off its hinges, according to the Star newspaper. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported arrests after a crowd knocked down mall doors, and the Associated Press reported pepper spray being used on crowds in the Seattle area.
The Air Jordan enterprise, now worth an estimated $1 billion a year, began in 1985 when Nike introduced the first shoe in the lineup, an eye-catching red, white and black high-top Michael Jordan had worn near the start of his high-flying career. The shoe was a runaway hit.
Nike has regularly rolled out new Air Jordans ever since. The latest shoe is a $180 reissue of an Air Jordan released in 1996.
Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, said the shopping frenzy around the shoe is arguably more important than the number of dollars Nike will make selling it.
“As a shoe by itself, it’s moderately important,” Cohen said. “But as a marketing concept and a retailing partnership? Genius.”
Staff writers Jia Lynn Yang and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.