An elite runner was rattled Friday morning when an impish bearded man appeared in her hospital room and demanded her newborn son.
Two-time Olympian Jenny Spinner, 33, had given birth the previous day and was nursing the infant, a 7 pound 2 ounce boy named Max, when she suddenly noticed the sprightly man at the foot of her bed.
“He was a little guy,” Spinner told Dumb Runner, “Maybe 4 feet tall. And dressed kind of funny, in a tunic sort of thing and a red felt hat.”
“It took me by surprise, because I hadn’t heard the door open.”
The man sidled up and identified himself only as a representative of Nike, which has sponsored Spinner since 2015. Then, Spinner said, he turned his attention to Max.
“Well!” said the man, rubbing his hands together. “Is that the boy?”
Spinner, exhausted and stunned, nodded in response.
“Let’s have him, then,” said the man. “Or have you forgotten our arrangement?”
Spinner’s contract, the man said, called for her to relinquish her firstborn child to Nike within 24 hours of birth—a provision that Spinner insisted she never agreed to.
“Always read the fine print,” said the man, who proceeded to repeat the phrase in a singsong manner, hooting and dancing about the room.
Shortly afterward, however, the scene ended as quickly, and strangely, as it had begun: When Spinner took out her phone and said she was calling “a friend who writes for The New York Times,” the creature howled and vanished in a puff of smoke.
Reached for comment, a Nike spokesperson said the company was committed to supporting all of its athletes and would “re-evaluate” its policy of sending mystical creatures to collect the newborns of Nike-sponsored women.
“Times are changing,” the spokesperson said, “and Nike is changing with them.”