Former Chicago Bulls superstar and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets Michael Jordan has done commercials and advertising with a lot of corporate sponsors. He is one of the most recognizable faces, even if you aren’t a basketball fan. From Hanes to Gatorade to Nike, Jordan has done it all and he has made a crap ton of money doing it.
Jordan is currently in the middle of a legal battle against Safeway as he is seeking a ten million dollar payout for the company using his name without his permission during a 2009 promotion with the now defunct Dominick’s Finer Foods grocery store line. He has a pretty good reason for it too. He says that any time his name is on or associated with a product, it commands a hefty price.
Now, according to Bloomberg Business, his attorneys are trying to prove exactly why his payout price is more than reasonable by trying to show just how much money he made from his other sponsors. For some unknown reason, however, his sponsors are trying to keep that a secret.
Jordan made a little over $100 million in just sponsors last year and from 2000-2012, he made over $500 million. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of that came from Nike, from whom he made nearly half a billion dollars.
So what does this all mean? Why exactly are these big companies trying to keep Jordan’s earnings so hidden? The bulk of the tension between Jordan’s team and the sponsors is the 42-page agreement Jordan signed with Nike.
The agreement, which was drafted by Nike employee Gary Way, who is one of three employees who has access to the agreement, shows a number of things related to Jordan. The biggest thing is how Nike and Jordan share revenue and expenses.
That could be the key in Jordan’s lawsuit with Safeway. However, Nike along with other big companies like Gatorade, Hanes, and Upper Deck want to keep the numbers secret.
Nike’s legal team has said that Safeway’s push to bring the contracts into the public eye was a strategy to wrest a settlement from Jordan. Maybe so, but the former Chicago Bulls star charged into court regardless of what his corporate backers may have advised. Opening statements happened on Wednesday, and the trial is expected to last until Aug. 20.
So, one way or another, this trial is going to end with Jordan getting the payment he seeks. Either way, it is still crazy to see how one man can influence businesses like Jordan has over the last two decades.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports