When you’re worth billions like Michael Jordan, you can afford to splurge. The Chicago Bulls legend has built a massive empire with multiple streams of income, including an iconic signature shoe line. As another player-turned-owner, His Airness spends quite a bit of time traveling. But unlike us common folk who fly Delta, Michael Jordan soars the skies in $61.5 million style.
Michael Jordan became the first billionaire athlete
Michael Jordan didn’t become a billionaire based on his NBA earnings. Despite earning GOAT status, he actually earned less money than Scottie Pippen. Even a number of Jordan’s lesser-talented teammates from the Bulls’ 72-10 championship squad took home more money. In fact, after returning to the Bulls after a brief baseball attempt, Jordan still didn’t break the bank right away. Not until the 1996-97 season did MJ break the $4 million salary mark. However, he did take home $63 million in his final two years in Chicago. By the time he finally called it quits after two years with the Washington Wizards, MJ had earned about $93 million from his playing days.
Of course, that looks like chump change when you look at Jordan’s overall net worth. While modern NBA stars have scored massive deals, His Airness set the standard from a marketing standpoint. Agent David Falk set up Jordan for financial success by bringing his talents to Nike. The Air Jordan line quickly became an iconic global brand. Today, Jordan rakes in about $130 million annually from that shoe deal with Nike. Along with a number of other successful business ventures, that shoe contract enabled Michael Jordan to become the world’s first billionaire athlete.
Bulls legend hasn’t always spent his money wisely
We all have our vices. For some it’s alcohol. Others turn to drugs or partying. For Michael Jordan, gambling has been his biggest nemesis. He became so synonymous with gambling that many speculated that his abrupt retirement had something to do with his inability to say no to a bet. However, Steve Kerr put that to rest.
There’s no shortage of interesting (and sometimes scary) MJ gambling stories. Throughout his career as a player, and even in retirement, he notoriously wagered obscene amounts of money. On one occasion, he put in $100,000 on rock, paper, scissors. Talk about a high-stakes childhood classic. Jordan even bet on NBA jumbotron games and went so far as to cheat to win those $100 wagers.
Another famous example of Michael Jordan’s dangerous vice occurred in 1991. Instead of joining his Bulls teammates on their White House trip, MJ skipped the visit in order to golf and gamble in South Carolina with James “Slim” Bouler. He ended up having to cut a $57,000 check to cover his losses. Bouler’s own legal troubles even resulted in Jordan testifying at his trial. The $57,000 winner ended up serving eight years in prison for money laundering.
Jordan customized his own $61.5 million private jet
Michael Jordan built one of the world’s most recognizable brands based on an image of him flying through the air dunking a basketball. So it’s only fitting that when it comes to flying in the sky, he does so in style, too.
Jordan owns a Gulfstream G550 jet. Originally, he decked his private plane out in the signature powder blue and white colors from his alma mater, the University of North Carolina. However, in 2017, he gave it a facelift in fitting MJ fashion. Jordan’s jet now sports an elephant print design, which is a shoutout to his famous Jordan Brand shoes.
According to Augustine Reyes Chan, the Gulfstream G550 jet costs $61.5 million. Of course, with Jordan’s custom design, you can be sure that the price tag probably went up a bit.