Nobody can reach heights like His Airness.
Michael Jordan is one of the best to ever play basketball, and he’s also the most successful of all athletes off the court as an entrepreneur and businessman. After his recent sale of the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise, he is worth $3 billion.
Jordan, 60, is one of the richest 400 people in the U.S. and the first athlete to be named on that list, according to Forbes. He’s one of just seven athletes who have ever made more than a billion dollars.
Those other athletes include Tiger Woods, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Floyd Mayweather Jr. What do most of these athletes have in common? They made a majority of their money off the course, pitch or court.
“Most began to build a merchandise empire early in their careers,” Spurwink River’s retail expert Matt Powell told MarketWatch, while noting that five of those seven billionaires are also Nike
Jordan famously signed a deal with Nike as a rookie, as did LeBron James. Tiger Woods also signed with Nike immediately after joining the PGA Tour in 1996, and Federer was endorsed by Nike for 25 years and had a signature shoe with the swoosh too. James, Woods and Ronaldo are all still with Nike, while Federer left the Oregon sportswear giant to sign a $300 million endorsement deal with Uniqlo in 2018.
Messi is an Adidas
athlete and got a significant sum of money from Adidas and Apple
for his move to the U.S. Major League Soccer this summer. Mayweather is a unique case for such a high-net-worth athlete without an endorsement from a major sportswear brand. The boxer made $275 million from his fight with Conor McGregor, and another $240 million from his fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
Powell added that in addition to dominating their respective sports, it doesn’t hurt that most of these athletes are “extremely charismatic.”
Every billionaire athlete outside of Mayweather leveraged their fame and talent in their sport to make even more money outside their sport than they did on the field.
Jordan’s net worth comes from a variety of sources. Despite “only” making $93 million as a pro basketball player, Jordan’s earnings come primarily from his 1984 Nike Jordan Brand deal which paid him about $260 million last year, per the report, a deal that pays him 5% from Jordan Brand sales. Jordan’s other business ventures include his role as a special advisor to the board for DraftKings Inc.
his ownership of a NASCAR team, as well as endorsement deals throughout his career with brands such as the Pepsi-owned
Gatorade and Hanes.
Jordan bought the Hornets at a $275 million valuation in 2010, and sold the team at an 11x valuation markup for $3 billion. Jordan won’t get $3 billion in cash for selling the franchise, however, as he is keeping an undisclosed minority stake in the team.
“Michael’s one of the few people that have had success three times,” Ted Leonsis, the Washington Wizards, Mystics and Capitals owner, said in the report. “A lot of entrepreneurs, they make it once. They have a big win, take their winnings, retire and [we] never hear from them again, or they try something a second time and it doesn’t work. He’s had three mega successes,” speaking of Jordan’s success as a player, NBA owner and businessman.
Who could become the next billionaire athlete?
NBA star Kevin Durant is near the top of the list. Durant has signed $499 million worth of NBA contracts and has a roughly $300 million endorsement deal with Nike. In combination with his venture capital investment firm Thirty-Five Ventures, Durant has made impressive early investments in companies such as Coinbase
Acorns, the Uber-owned
Other top contenders include Steph Curry, who has signed $470 million worth of NBA contracts, and French soccer star Kylian Mbappé, who is poised to sign a record-breaking new contract sometime in the next year. Mbappé is also endorsed by Nike, and Curry is repped by Under Armour