Over the last few decades, Hall of Famer Michael Jordan has become a larger than life sports icon that has worldwide recognition. Jordan‘s popularity has moved well beyond the bounds of the NBA community as he’s arguably the most well-known sports athlete of all-time. That alone has opened up many doors for Jordan to take advantage of the financial opportunities that present themselves to him over the years. However, it also led to one grocery store to make the not-so-sly move of using the former Chicago Bulls great’s name without permission that cost them millions in a lawsuit.
Michael Jordan’s booming financial success
For the criticism Jordan has faced as the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, none of that can apply to his business decision over the years.
The _-year-old has become the gold standard for professional athletes to find financial success during and after their careers. Jordan has had many lucrative endorsement deals along with excelling behind his Jordan brand that has become one of the most prominent sports apparel companies in the world.
That has played a big part in helping him become the first professional athlete to garner a net worth beyond $1 billion that has now risen to approximately $2.1 billion. Jordan has shown to be a savvy businessman that only furthered the notoriety of his name along with the recognition that anything he has become involved over the years well into retirement.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing as his worldwide popularity has landed him in some financial-driven legal matters involving the use of his name, which was the case a little over a decade ago.
Michael Jordan sues grocery store for $10 million
Since his final retirement from the NBA, Jordan has continued to see his popularity and net worth grow by leaps and bounds.
The former supermarket chain known as Dominick’s, which was owned by Safeway, decided to use Jordan’s name in an ad in 2009. It was an advertisement for a $2 steak coupon that was placed in a commemorative issue that Sports Illustrated rolled in honor of him being inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The trial took six years to get through the entire legal matters that saw many of the details of Jordan’s past dealings with endorsement deals be brought forward. Lawyers for Safeway had argued that Jordan should be paid $126,900 for the use of his name in the ad, but the counterargument from Jordan and his attorneys was that he wouldn’t have taken that deal for that price.
It was revealed during that time that he had received $480 million from Nike from 2000 to 2012, while he had also turned down an $80 million offer to endorse headphones. The $10 million value for the lawsuit was put forward by sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, who was brought into the case by Jordan’s legal team, believed it was the market value for the ad.
All of that helped Jordan build a strong case over the years to where he eventually was the victor in the trial.
Michael Jordan awarded $8.9 million
It may have taken six years to sort out the entire matter, but Jordan came out on top slightly lower than he had hoped with being given $8.9 million paid by Safeway for the unauthorized use of his name in an ad.
During the trial, Safeway had to close down every Dominick’s store by the end of 2013 after purchasing the company back in 1998. Jordan’s response to the verdict was that he believed that it demonstrated that no public figure should have to be concern about their identity or namesake utilized without their consent. At the same time, the amount awarded wound going to charity. (H/T Darren Rovell of ESPN)
“I’m pleased with today’s verdict,” Jordan said in a statement. “No one — whether or not they’re a public figure — should have to worry about their identity being used without their permission. The case was not about the money as I plan to donate the proceeds to charity. It was about honesty and integrity. I hope this case sends a clear message, both here in the United States and around the world, that I will continue to be vigilant about protecting my name and identity. I also hope the size of the monetary reward will deter others from using someone else’s identity and believe they will only pay a small penalty.”
Ultimately, Jordan’s case was more than the amount potentially rewarded but helping protect any other public figures from having to venture into that type of legal matters moving forward.