Even In Retirement, Michael Jordan Poised To Make More Money Than Any Other Athlete


By Ryan Velez

In 2015, sports icon Michael Jordan made an estimated $110 million, a sum that allowed him to donate $8.9 million in proceeds from a lawsuit to Chicago charities without batting an eye. And now, Forbes reports that he is set to likely make $30 million more than any other athlete in the world, retired or active, in 2016. What’s made Jordan such a powerful financial force stems from several different areas.

Repucom executive Peter Laatz explains that while he is defined by his basketball career, it’s several other factors that are keeping him relevant. The Jordan brand, his Charlotte Hornets ownership, and even the popular ‘Crying Jordan’ meme are all contributing to keeping him in the public eye. Repucom’s CelebrityDBI ranked Jordan first in awareness and consumer sentiment over seven different attributes. This makes him more marketable than big names such as Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and Bill Gates.

The juggernaut in the Jordan empire is his brand with Nike. While the basketball shoe market was up 3.7% in 2015, the Jordan brand saw a 14% growth. Overall, total Jordan basketball shoe sales take up 64% of the market share – and that’s only the beginning. Nike is now planning to double the brand’s revenue to $4.5 billion by 2020. The main push to achieve this goal will be targeting women as well as categories outside of basketball. This has already started with the Jordan Eclipse lifestyle running shoes, which are said to be selling well. As the brand grows, so will Jordan’s take via royalties.

Even outside of Nike, Jordan is bringing in more money through partnerships with Gatorade, 2K Sports, and Five Star Fragrances. He also owns seven restaurants and a car dealership, and the Charlotte Hornets has now experienced the greatest rise of franchise values in NBA history, in part due to his ownership. Even though Jordan, 53, officially became a billionaire in 2014, he is still vigilant when it comes to potential money. In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Jordan’s manager Estee Portnoy said that he was aware of the ‘Crying Jordan’ meme, and that they were looking to see if anyone was using it “to promote their commercial interest.”