How Michael Jordan became a billionaire even after retirement from the NBA

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Michael Jordan - Net Worth: $1 Billion

When Michael Jordan hung up his jersey for the final time in 2003, he had made somewhere between $91 and $94 million dollars playing the game he loved. Not only was he breaking records with his play, but his $33.1 million dollar salary for the 1997-1998 season is still the highest single-season salary in NBA history.

In his final two seasons with the Bulls, Jordan earned $66.3 million another figure no one has come close to. Needless to say, Jordan was paid handsomely in his 15 years, yet he has still made more money off the court than he made on the court.

In 2015, Michael Jordan joined the Forbes billionaires list, the first athlete to ever do so. Even 13 years removed from the hardcourt, His Airness is still putting money in the bank year after year.


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Charlotte Hornets

Without a doubt, Jordan’s biggest asset is his basketball team, the Charlotte Hornets. When MJ decided to buy a majority stake in the team in 2010, the club was valued at “only” $175 million. After new TV contracts and fellow billionaire Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Hornets are valued at $750 million by Forbes.

It goes without saying that Jordan jumped in at the right time and has reaped the benefits since. Jordan definitely doesn’t plan on cashing out soon either; while talking about his stake in the team he said:

“For all of the people that think I’m in this for the short term, you better pull your socks up and just hang around – because my promise to this organization and this community is to bring a winner. We still have a long ways to go as an organization. We are just scratching the surface.”

Air Jordan 

Aside from his record-breaking days of phenomenal basketball, what Jordan is most known for is the Air Jordan brand. As Forbes puts it, “Nike’s Jordan Brand is a financial juggernaut,” and there is no denying that it is. In 2014, Jordan shoe sales in the US were $2.6 billion, with an additional billion from international sales. Jordan makes anywhere from $90 million to $100 million a year from his shoe deal with Nike.

At this point in time, Jordan must be glad that Phil Knight and Nike’s marketing team made such a strong impression in 1984 that led to him taking the initial five-year, $500,000 a year deal he made with Nike. The man who once wanted nothing but a signature shoe with Adidas has built an empire around his name with Nike, one very wealthy empire.

Athlete Turned Businessman

Michael Jordan likes to be the best. On the court he turned himself into one of the best basketball players of all time, years after his retirement, Jordan is making his name as one of the best athletes turned businessmen out there. While a large chunk of Jordan’s yearly earnings come from Jordan Brand and Nike royalties he has sponsorships lined up with many other companies as well.

According to market research firm Repucom, when it comes to consumer awareness, Jordan sits up there with the like of President Barack Obama at a 98% awareness level. Sitting at fourth for all celebrities in the United States and 12th globally. The only athlete joining him in the top 20 globally is none other than David Beckham.

With this kind of awareness and outreach, brands understand the kind of exposure and the benefit that comes along with Michael Jordan as a brand ambassador. To name a few who have MJ endorsing their products: Hanes, Upper Deck, 2K Sports, Five Star Fragrances, and Gatorade. MJ has made nearly $50 million dollars from these sponsorships alone.

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This is only a small glimpse into the long list of companies that have had Jordan associated with them in some way or another. While they are predominantly related to sports, Jordan has also tied up Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte as an extension of his deal with Novant Healthcare. Jordan’s deal with Novant was only two years, but the company remains a sponsor of Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets.

Aside from sponsorship deals, Jordan also owns seven restaurants and a car dealership. He also owned a motorcycle racing team for nearly 10 years before deciding to not field a team in 2014.

One source of income that gained Jordan a lot of notoriety, was in his court case against Dominick’s Finer Foods. He sued the defunct supermarket chain after learning that his identity had been used in the ad campaign without his permission. The court case ended with Jordan walking away $8.9 million dollars richer than he had been before.

Michael Jordan was one of the best players to ever put on an NBA jersey and he hasn’t let his retirement stop his success. Now worth over $1 billion and making more and more money every year, MJ shows no signs of slowing down soon.

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