In case you didn't know, readers, Sunday's New York Times had a front page story titled "Nike Under Scrutiny as Payments for Kenya Runners Are Drained."
In case you're really out of the loop: The New York Times is a newspaper based in New York City. We think it mostly covers local news, like crime and happenings around town.
Anyway, this story—which appeared on its website under a different headline—involves allegations that Nike bribed Kenyan athletics officials to keep their runners in Nike shoes and apparel. It's very interesting. And very long. It goes, like, all the way over onto another page.
After we finished reading it, we thought: You know what? This calls for Dr. Dumb. Only an intellect of his caliber could absorb a story this complex and then convey its nuances in a way that even our readership could understand.
And so we met up with Dr. Dumb, an avid Dumpster diver, behind one of his favorite sushi restaurants. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
Dumb Runner: Thank you, doctor, for taking the time to chat with us.
Dr. Dumb: My pleasure. Can you believe they threw away these tuna rolls? They're perfectly fine.
Can you give us the gist of this New York Times article?
Well, apparently tensions are mounting in the South China Sea, where China and the U.S. are playing a high-stakes game of cat and mouse over some disputed islands.
Huh? Oh, sorry. Right. The Nike/Kenya thing. So basically, Nike has been sponsoring Kenyan runners for a long time. A while back, a Chinese company offered Kenyan athletics officials a more lucrative deal. The Kenyan guys said, "Duh, yes please"—I think there were actual dollar signs in their eyes, cartoon-style—but then they realized their Nike contract was, you know, a contract. Plus Nike was like, "Oh, man, we don't want to lose these guys." So they offered the Kenyan officials even more money. And the Kenyan guys said, "Duh, yes please."
Why is this controversial?
Because, the Times says, part of this money came in the form of "a one-time $500,000 'commitment bonus,' which (a) former employee called a bribe."
I know. Obviously it wasn't a bribe. If it were a bribe, Nike would have called it that.
Then why would anyone make such an ugly accusation?
Who knows? People are weird. I mean, it's true that this money was earmarked for poor Kenyan athletes, to help them train. It's also true that the money was, as the Times describes it, "immediately sucked out of the federation’s bank account by a handful of Kenyan officials and kept off the books."
This proves nothing.
If you ask me, it proves that these Kenyan officials are smart and responsible stewards. If I handed you a half-million bucks, would you keep it in some weird Kenyan bank?
No way. Not safe.
Kenyan banks are notoriously dicey.
Much more secure to keep your cash in a less liquid, more stable form. A fleet of Mercedes S-Class sedans, for instance. Or an opulent second home.
An opulent second home ain't going anywhere.
What else does the article say?
That Nike gave "detailed instructions on how the $100,000 yearly honorarium was to be used," but said nothing about how the $500,000 "commitment bonus" should be spent.
I know. Also that for a while, some Kenyan officials said, Nike had used Kenya as a "dumping ground for substandard clothing."
Right? Oh, and also at one point a Kenyan athletics official contacted a Nike executive via an email that read, “Urgent!! Dear Robert, U.S. 500,000 being commitment Bonus. Regards, Isaiah Kiplagat, Chairman.”
I get emails like that all the time.
Ha ha. Me too, but mine are usually from a "Nigerian prince." Totally legit. Not!
Ha ha. This whole thing sounds like a joke. Did Nike deny any wrongdoing?
Yes, it did.
Well then, what's the problem? Seems like an open-and-shut case to me.
I couldn't agree more.
That's a nice new watch you've got there, by the way. Rolex?
Breitling. How about yours?
Ah. That's a Patek Philippe.
Sweet. I don't know what we did to deserve these "random impartiality awards," but hey, I'm not going to complain.
Well, thanks for your time, doctor. Good luck with that sushi.
Hey, this one looks like eel.