The Patriots Thursday Night Football game against the Colts wouldn't kick off for another 12 hours, and yet, the line at the Patriots ProShop wrapped along the side of the building. Here, the Venn diagram of Patriots fans and sneaker heads was a circle as fans waited to get their hands on a pair of the 2018 limited edition Robert Kraft Air Force 1s.
The partnership between the Patriots and Nike has brought new, special edition sneakers onto the scene for the past five years, with all the proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Boston. Including the sales from this year, the shoe sales will cross the $2 million threshold since it began.
With the mix of philanthropy and unique kicks, the shoe release has brought fans out from all over New England and beyond to camp out in front of the ProShop year after year.
Heather Donahue and Sarah Hallinan arrived at 9 p.m. Wednesday night, as did Tyge Joyce, Kevin Issa and Terrence Joyce. Though they didn't know each other when they lined up, they got familiar with one another by the time the Robert Kraft came out to meet with fans. He even surprised them with tickets to the game.
Terrance said the shoes are great, but the donation of the sales is what seals the deal.
"It's a good cause," he said. "Every dollar that goes to the sneakers goes to the Boys and Girls Club, so why can't you support that and your team at the same time?"
Mr. Kraft said the dedication of fans to support this cause has been extraordinary.
"That was unbelievable. People were here last night. They started lining up before 9 p.m," Mr. Kraft said. "They’re here over 12 hours for a pair of sneakers. I guess sneakerheads are different."
The new Robert Kraft Air Force 1s are red with a navy blue swoosh, outlined in white. The pop of color was a big hit with fans like Mark Purkis of Upton.
"This is almost like my Christmas. I love coming down here and doing this," he said. "[I love] the fact that people are not only just here for football, but they're here because of an interest in shoes. I'm not a big shoe buyer, but I love Air Force 1s. Mr. Kraft certainly knows how to design a great shoe, and the fact that it all goes to charity too is really just a big bonus."
When Mr. Kraft got his first look at the shoes, he was as impressed by the shoe as he was the box it arrived in. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, had a box made of seats and benches from Foxboro Stadium. The scores of all 300 wins of Mr. Kraft's tenure as owner are etched onto it, merging the past, present and future of the organization.
As he slipped on the pair of shoes for the first time, Mr. Kraft was looking towards win No. 301 with a little help from his new kicks.
"I hope these bring us good luck tonight," he said.
You can check out more photos in the gallery below.
Fans lined up outside the Patriots ProShop as early as 9 p.m. last night to purchase the new Nike RKK Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit sneakers. The fans were greeted by Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who autographed the shoes. All proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.