In a world of six-figure contracts being common among the NBA’s best players, it might be surprising to find out that Michael Jordan made less than $100M off of NBA contracts. Jordan, however, has always been more than a basketball player. He’s a brand, an entrepreneur, a gambler, a one-time movie star, and if Forbes is to be believed, a billionaire.
Michael Jordan’s value
Michael Jordan has a net worth of $1.9B. Although he hasn’t played since 2003, he remains the highest-earning athlete in the world. Jordans, after all, remain one of the most sought after shoes among sneakerheads. According to business insider, the face of ’90s basketball earned $100M off of his shoes in 2015, and his value is growing by the day.
Jordan’s career earnings were $90M, $63M of that coming during his final two years with the Chicago Bulls. This shows the difference between the days when he played and today when glorified role players can often make near Jordan’s career earnings in three or four years. His $175M investment in the Hornets has helped propel his status as a billionaire as franchise values skyrocket around the league.
With 90% of the Hornets’ ownership stake, Michael Jordan is nearly a billionaire from his basketball team alone, and in a world full of billionaire athletes, Jordan remains on top thanks to being the original brand name athlete, being a savvy business person, and capitalizing on his name across the sports world.
To put his $1.9B earnings into perspective, this is what Michael Jordan earned compared to other high-rollers in the sports world according to a 2017 list from Forbes.
Tiger Woods, $1.7B
Woods’ career and reputation may have taken a hit, but his earnings have not. Despite this, he is reportedly earned $1.7B thanks to multiple sponsorships with brands across the board and his career earnings in the game. If Woods could have the comeback that so many want him to have on the field, his earnings could get even higher.
Arnold Palmer, $1.4B
When Arnold Palmer died in 2016, he was reportedly worth $1.4B. Never one to shy away from branding, Palmer put his name on products of all shapes and sizes across the globe, including the famous beverage that is named after him.
He reportedly earned $40M in 2016, the year that he died, and his brands continue to earn after his death. Golfers dominate many of the top spots on Forbes’s list.
Shaquille O’Neal, $734M
This should come as no surprise to those who have followed Shaq’s career. Never one to turn down an opportunity to expand on his portfolio, Shaq notably doesn’t just appear in commercials, he makes sure that he can package deals in ways that earn him his top dollar.
Although his low-cost sneakers have been the butt of jokes, they’ve also reportedly sold 120 million pairs since launch. Those numbers are nothing to joke about.
LeBron James, $730M
LeBron began appearing in advertisements as a teenager, and with a growing media empire, a popular shoe, and a stake in a growing pizza company.
His earnings may put him near the top of the list before long. LeBron James remains one of the most bankable athletes in all of sports in the final years of his career. Not to mention, he now has the Los Angeles market working for him, as well.
Peyton Manning, $480M
Like O’Neal, Manning has never shied away from putting his name on anything. From Papa John’s to Gatorade, DirecTV to Nationwide Insurance, he has proven to be a successful pitchman long after his career ended. If he decides to pursue a television career full-time or dive deeper into the world of Hollywood, he could earn even more.
Despite all these athletes having significant amounts of wealth, almost none of them come close to the level of Michael Jordan. This is a testament to Jordan’s smarts and competitive mindset.