First in philanthropy: Phil and Penny Knight

Phil Knight and Brian Druker, M.D., on “Good Morning America” in 2015.

Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny ranked no. 1 in The Chronicle of Philanthropy list of Americans who donated the most to charity in 2016.

The magazine said the Knights gave away $900 million last year: $500 million to the University of Oregon and $400 million to Stanford. That put them ahead of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($600.1 million), early Warren Buffet investors Howard and Lottie Marcus ($400 million), Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen ($295 million), and former hedge-fund manager John Arnold and his wife Laura ($284 million).

In 2015, the Knights’ philanthropy made national news headlines when their $500 million matching gift enabled OHSU to raise $1 billion for research at the Knight Cancer Institute. The money is supporting the launch of the first large-scale program dedicated to early detection of lethal cancers — one of the biggest unmet needs in cancer care today.

Phil and Penny Knight donated $125 million to OHSU for cardiovascular research in 2012, and $100 million for cancer research in 2008. The Nike co-founder told CBS News last year that he intends to give away most of his $25 billion fortune.