VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — You could say Kenny Jones was born for this.
He has a pair of his baby sneakers hanging from his car's rearview mirror, and a shelf of treasured Nikes.
“I’ve always been into sneakers, as long as I can remember," Jones said. "I saw the opportunity and thought, here's my shot."
Jones, a Coast Guardsman who grew up in Virginia Beach and now lives in Chesapeake with his wife and son, drew a Virginia Beach-themed shoe design for a custom contest on Instagram. The contest required the design to represent a city.
Jones' design features waves and a tan outsole to represent the beach, a trident for the Neptune Statue, a treble clef to pay tribute to music icons who grew up in the area, colors that reference the region's military roots, and other nods to the region.
His design, with the help of a free mock-up from Drew Boyd with @tidewaterwaves on Instagram and a final mock-up from @thewstlnd, quickly went viral - racking up more than 200,000 likes on Twitter, 30,000 likes on Instagram and thousands of shares.
“It’s so humbling and insane, honestly," Jones said. “I probably did it all in 30 minutes or so but I had to get it out there."
Now, the design is one of 10 finalists for a custom sneaker contest. If enough people vote for Jones' design, it could be made into a custom shoe.
“We have inspiration everywhere, it’s hard not to love this area, you know," he said. “Our city is overlooked a lot of times, no matter how many legends we have come from here."
Jones said he wanted to honor the region's ties to the Navy and Coast Guard, as well as give a nod to Timbaland, Pharrell, Missy Elliot, The Clipse, Pusha T, The Neptunes and other music icons.
He said he received a lot of praise for his first shoe design, but he didn't quite impress his 3-year-old son, who pushed his own green and purple shoe design in front of his father.
“I was like, that’s kids for you! I’m proud of his design too, it’s pretty cool," Jones said.
Jones said it would be amazing to see anyone wearing sneakers with his design, and he’d love it if the proceeds from a potential release could benefit local charities.
“That’s the real dream - to turn something I’ve always wanted to do, but also be able to help people, there’s nothing cooler than that," he said. "It would be cool to see people all over the state, country, world wearing a shoe that shows Virginia Beach."
Starting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday on the @nikesbornothing Instagram page, people can vote for Jones' design to get made into a real pair of sneakers.