An American football player has lost out on winning a private island because of his shoes.

University of Washington wide receiver John Ross was the talk of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where college players perform drills that allow NFL clubs to evaluate their potential.

Shoemakers Adidas offered the prize of an island valued at about $US1.4m (or cash in lieu) for anyone breaking the record of 4.24 seconds, set by Chris Johnson in 2008.

But the fine print stated that the record breaker had to wear adidas shoes and sign up with the company to collect the prize, and Ross wore Nike.

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Nevermind, Ross saw the funny side. He tweeted: "I can't swim and I don't own a boat".

Nike also raced in, taking advantage of the situation to mock their big rivals.

"There's only one option when you want to go 4.2" Nike declared.


Star Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was among those giving their opinions on the story.