Contrary to popular belief, while money is a vital key to achieving the end goal, it isn’t entirely what we’re after. The real end goal is freedom. You know, freedom to go where you please… freedom to do what you please… freedom to live without any anxiety of what happens tomorrow… and in the specific case of Michael Jordan, the freedom to turn down $100 million / AU$134.5 million for a two-hour appearance (just because you don’t really feel like it).
The stunning revelation was brought to public attention by the six-time NBA champion, sneaker mogul, and Charlotte Hornets team owner’s former agent, David Falk. Appearing on WFAN’s Boomer & Gio radio show, while specific details surrounding the nine-figure proposition wasn’t outlined – aside from the absurd lack of hard commitment – here’s what we know.
“I brought [Michael Jordan] a deal three years ago for $100 million,” explains David Falk.
“And all he had to do was – other than giving his name and likeness – make a one, two-hour appearance to announce the deal, and he turned it down.”
“And God bless him. He’s been so successful, it gives him the opportunity to do whatever the hell he wants or not to do things he doesn’t want.”
“I really admire that. He’s very, very selective in the things he wants to be involved in.”
In the same interview, Falk mentioned how His Airness also turned down a one-day golf tournament appearance in the Philippines during the NBA pre-season. On that occasion, participating in one of his favourite pastimes would have netted him US$7 million / AU$9.4 million. But if Michael Jordan wasn’t taking $100 million for even less effort, he certainly wasn’t parading himself out for a measly seven stack. There’s a lesson somewhere here about preserving your personal brand.
The majority of Michael Jordan’s US$1.6 billion / $2.1 billion net worth, of course, can be attributed to what is perhaps the richest sneaker deal in history. In 1984, after being turned away by Converse (the NBA’s staple footwear at the time), he became acquainted with a fledgling, second-tier shoe company known as Nike. Keep in mind, this was during an era where the iconic Swoosh lived in the shadow of Converse, Adidas, etc., and hadn’t quite found its footing within the market.
After some negotiations, Chicago’s young bull landed US$250,000 in cash upfront and his own sneaker line. Nike initially projected just US$3 million worth of Air Jordan sneaker sales by the end of the four-year term. In the first year alone, Nike would sell US$126 million worth of units. In total, the man has pocketed over US$1.3 billion. This was, however, just the tip of the iceberg.
Michael Jordan essentially “paved the way” for Nike to leave its competitors for dead. Analysis conducted by Forbes has indicated the following:
- Nike has a “virtual monopoly” in the once-competitive basketball sneaker business
- Nike and the Air Jordan brand’s share of the performance basketball market was 86% in 2019 (according to market research firm NPD)
- Dominance was even more prevalent in the lifestyle basketball category with a total 96% share
- 77% of NBA players wore Nike / Jordan shoes during the 2019-20 season, with the top nine models produced by Nike (according to database site Baller Shoes DB)
- Nike’s US$40 billion in revenue over the 2019-20 period was 60% more than Adidas – and 43x times what it was pre-Jordan
- Nike’s market cap: US$258.01 billion (over four times the size of Adidas’ market cap)
Money is just synonymous with the Michael Jordan name.