A few years ago, pictures of Rhea Bullos, an 11-year-old Filipino girl, racing barefoot in a school race with only bandages wrapped over her feet went viral, capturing the attention of people all over the world. The poor girl wrote “Nike” and the “Swoosh” insignia on the bandages because she couldn’t afford fancy sneakers.
However, some trending social media posts assert that as soon as Nike learned about the occurrence, they brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against the young girl. Below is an illustration of such a post on Facebook:
An image from the aforementioned post showed an 11-year-old Filipino girl who couldn’t afford a pair of running shoes for her school race. So, using plastic, adhesive, and even a Nike logo, she made them on her own.
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The CEO of Nike flew all the way to the Philippines to meet with her after her story went viral in order to sue her for $200k in copyright infringement. Other Facebook posts also reference this screenshot. Some of these posts can be seen on Facebook in the screenshot supplied below.
However, in our investigation, we found the claim made by the viral post to be False. Here is the fact check:
When we Googled Rhea Bullos, we found a number of stories that had been written about her as recently as 2019. The 11-year-old girl competed in an inter-school sports competition in Iloilo, Philippines, without any shoes since she could not afford them, according to the stories. She competed despite this and won gold medals in the 400, 800, and 1500-meter races.
On December 9, 2019, Rhea’s coach, Patrick B. Valenzuela, posted images of her accomplishment while barefoot on Facebook for the first time. His post caused the inspirational story of Rhea to become viral.
Numerous people stepped forward to support Rhea and her team after her tale went viral. Nike Philippines was one such business, and it gave Bullos four pairs of shoes, a luggage pack, and
The team was able to receive the money thanks to community support. One such person who helped Rhea and her gang was Joshua Enriquez. Joshua may have tweeted an update on the donations that have been made. He can be seen with Rhea and her friends.
We contacted Joshua via Instagram to find out more about these rumors. After that, he said, “Total lie. This has never been recorded before. Without your message, I would not have been aware that such nonsense was being circulated.
He also refuted this idea in a post on his Facebook page after this exchange. We tried to find out when and where these rumors initially started to circulate, but we were unable. Even though some people are laughing about the whole affair, it is clear from the comments on the posts that they actually believed the story to be true.
Others even objected and expressed their annoyance in the comments section. But one user asserted in a comment on the widely read article that this was a false story published on a now-inactive website. The likelihood is also high that the post was meant to be ironic but ended up going viral anyhow.
During our research, the assertion that Nike had filed a lawsuit against Rhea Bullos for copyright infringement was determined to be False. The article may have been satirical, but because it was widely circulated with no justification, many people mistakenly believed that Nike had accused a young, underprivileged Filipino girl of copyright infringement.