Forbes reports that hard court GOAT Michael Jordan has now joined the billionaire ranks. Although he retired from playing for the third time 11 years ago, Jordan remains one of the most identifiable figures in television ads. His name still has a cache that the best players in the NBA can only envy. The man most sports pundits call “the Greatest of All-Time” also generates cash value like an ATM in overdrive. The hypercompetitive Jordan wins at business in the same way he won in basketball.
To arrive at the conclusion that hard court savant Michael Jordan is now a member of the billionaire club, the writers at Forbes first analyzed the value of his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets. They estimated his Hornets stake to be valued at about $400 million. The GOAT currently owns an 89.6 percent share of the team. Using the Milwaukee Bucks sale price of $550 million as a benchmark, which could be conservative given the reported sales price of the Los Angeles Clippers at $2 billion, the Forbes analysts valued the Charlotte team at over $600 million. With about $145 million of team debt netted out, the value of Jordan’s ownership of the team stands at over $400 million.
The Forbes authors placed a value of approximately $600 million on Jordan’s other business interests. The Hall of Famer made about $90 million from Nike in 2013. Starting out with a $500,000 per year endorsement contract with Nike fresh out of college, both Nike and Jordan have profited from the relationship. The exercise shoe colossus makes about $2 billion per year from Jordan brands, and his basketball shoes comprise 58 percent of the market. Because Jordan remains the most popular athlete according to numerous consumer surveys, he enjoys several other endorsement relationships, including Gatorade, 2K and Hanes. The Jordan name continues to carry great weight with consumers. In total, Forbes estimated Jordan’s assets outside of his Hornets ownership to be worth approximately $600 million.
Some speculate that Jordan might not have achieved the same level of popularity if he played with Twitter feeds and cell phone images dogging his every move. He always used criticism and slights, or even perceived slights, to his advantage to gain a competitive edge when playing. Current NBA players such as Lebron James must contend with a larger share of criticism over their every move. While teammates and coaches knew Jordan as a difficult person, he was always able to keep his public persona as positive and happy. Perhaps the pre-social media memories of Jordan allow his image to remain untarnished while current players are more closely watched.
No matter what occurs in Jordan’s life, he does have the ability to come out on top. His divorce settlement with Juanita Jordan was a whopping $168 million. He managed to pay his giant settlement and then make up for the gigantic divorce payment. Further, rumors swirled at the time of his first retirement in 1993. Many speculated that then Commissioner David Stern secretly suspended Jordan for unsavory gambling ties. The idea was that Jordan protected his valuable brand name by accepting some down time from the NBA before emerging again a year and a half later to lead the Chicago Bulls to their second “three peat” after his first full season back in action.
Always the confident swashbuckler and gambler, Jordan makes himself a winner in almost every situation. His only black mark thus far is his track record as an NBA talent evaluator and executive. He probably does not list his pick of Kwame Brown as the first overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft on his resume. Nevertheless, Michael Jordan’s name and brand remain quite valuable, which ranks the GOAT as a new hard court billionaire.
Commentary by William Costolo