How Michael Jordan made $90 million in 2013

He's still the NBA's biggest star 11 years after leaving the game, and is on his way to billionaire status.

By Forbes Digital Feb 28, 2014 2:22PM
NBA legend Michael Jordan gives interviews during ARIA Resort & Casino's 12th annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament at Shadow Creek on April 5, 2013 in North Las Vegas, Nevada
© Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity InvitationalBy Kurt Badenhausen, Forbes Staff

Nike (NKE) released the Air Jordan 10 "Powder Blue" retro sneaker on Saturday, 20 years after the first Jordan 10s hit shelves.

Like all the Jordan retro releases, this one was highly anticipated, and first-day sales hit $35 million.

For perspective, in all of 2013, Adidas sold $40 million in the U.S. of the signature shoes of its top star, Derrick Rose. The Bulls' current star guard isn't the only one operating in the shadow of Jordan. Reigning MVP LeBron James is the top seller among current NBA players with $300 million at retail last year for his Nike shoes, according to data tracker SportsOneSource.

Jordan crushed those numbers with $2.25 billion in U.S. retail basketball sales in 2013. It has been more than a decade since Michael Jordan last appeared in an NBA uniform, but MJ most certainly has still got it.

Jordan made an estimated $90 million last year thanks to the rich partnership he enjoys with Nike. His 2013 earnings eclipsed those of all other retired or current athletes, save boxer Floyd Mayweather. It marked Jordan's biggest earnings year yet in a career paved with monster paydays, which peaked in Jordan's last season with the Bulls (1997-98) at $80 million.

Jordan is still the NBA's biggest star 11 years after leaving the game.
Jordan entered the NBA three decades ago after three years at North Carolina, where he announced himself to the country his freshman year with the game-winning shot in the 1982 National Championship game. Nike saw the marketing potential of Jordan, drafted third overall by the Bulls, and offered him a five-year contract worth $500,000 annually plus royalties. It was a huge sum at the time for a shoe deal, but it was a partnership that would lead both parties to unprecedented heights.

Jordan took to the court his rookie year in 1984 in a pair of red and black Air Jordans, which matched the Bulls' uniforms, but did not feature any white, per NBA protocol. The league banned the shoes and fined Michael $5,000 every game for wearing them. Nike covered the fines and capitalized on the attention with a commercial with the following voiceover: "On September 15th, Nike created a revolutionary new basketball shoe. On October 18th, the NBA threw them out of the game. Fortunately, the NBA can't stop you from wearing them." A marketing juggernaut was born.

New Air Jordans followed annually in assorted colors and there have been a myriad of special releases along the way. The retro business makes up about half of the Jordan shoe business today.

"Nike has made an art form of unrequited demand," says SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell regarding the retro releases. "Making sure that there is supply well below demand keeps things fresh."

Retail shoe sales for the Jordan Brand in the U.S. grew 11 percent last year to $2.7 billion, with basketball making up 84 percent of that, according to Powell. Roughly 50 percent to 55 percent of that goes to Nike.

If you factor in sales of Jordan apparel, the international Jordan business and sales at Nike stores, the Jordan brand is contributing roughly $2 billion of revenue to Nike, which posted sales of $26 billion over the last 12 months. Jordan, the man, gets a cut of every shoe, hoodie or pair of shorts sold by Nike under the Jordan Brand. We estimate MJ's take from Nike was at least $75 million last year. "Given that he is the name that launched the brand, you could argue that he deserves more," says Phil de Picciotto, founder and president of Octagon. "Jordan is the perfect athlete."

One of every two basketball shoes sold in the U.S. last year carried the Jordan brand. Factor in Nike-branded shoe sales into the mix, and Nike has a near monopoly in basketball with market share of 92 percent, according to SportsOneSource. Adidas (5.5 percent market share), Reebok (1.4 percent) and Under Armour (UA) (0.7 percent) are still searching for answers to Jordan.

The Jordan Brand isn't sitting still. It opened its first Jordan-specific store, Flight 23, this month in New York City, outside of Madison Square Garden where No. 23 tortured Knicks fans for so many years with moments like the legendary dunk or his double nickel return to MSG.

MJ still weighs in on designs of new Jordan shoes and suggests players he thinks would be a good fit for Nike's Jordan endorsement roster, which counts roughly 20 current NBA players, including All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The Jordan Brand also taps players outside of basketball, like baseball's Derek Jeter, Nascar's Denny Hamlin, boxing's Andre Ward and football's Andre Johnson.

Outside of Nike, MJ's earnings get a boost from long-time endorsement partners Gatorade, Hanesbrands (HBI), Upper Deck and Five Star Fragrances for his cologne line. He's also added deals with 2K Sports and Novant Health in recent years. In addition, he owns seven restaurants, a car dealership and his most valuable asset, 80 percent of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. Jordan used himself as the carrot to help close a Bobcats sponsorship deal with Novant in 2012.

Is Michael Jordan still relevant in today's culture? More than any other athlete if you go by hip-hop lyrics -- there were references to Jordan in 50 new songs in 2013, according to ESPN The Magazine's music issue. The next most mentioned athlete was Kobe Bryant at 18, followed by James with 15. Jordan was named the most popular sports figure of 2013 in the ESPN Sports Poll, with 4.2 percent of the vote. Jordan's Q score, which gauges awareness and popularity, has been tops among sports fans every year since 1991. His 25 million Facebook fans are 43 percent more than any other U.S. athlete.

Jordan's ownership tenure, first with the Washington Wizards and now with the Bobcats, has been rocky (his motorsports team also shut down last year due to a lack of sponsorship). He has not been able to translate his prowess on the court into the ownership suite in terms of wins and losses. But from a business sense, Jordan might hit another game-winner with his ownership of Charlotte.

Jordan became majority owner of the Bobcats in 2010 in a deal that valued the team at just $175 million. Jordan also agreed to put up cash to cover operating losses the team was piling up. But after five straight years of heavy losses, the Bobcats turned an operating profit (earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation) of $7 million last season.

The team benefits from the new collective bargaining agreement that reduced the players' cut of revenues from 57 percent to 50 percent. The CBA also tripled the revenue sharing going from the NBA's haves to have-nots. Charlotte is one of the biggest beneficiaries, with revenue sharing that should reach $18 million a year.

NBA teams are also on the verge of a massive cash infusion with new TV deals set to be negotiated this year. The current pacts with ESPN/ABC and TNT are worth $930 million annually and insiders think the next round of agreements will be worth at least twice as much.

The value of the Bobcats, which Jordan owns 80 percent of, was up 30 percent over the last year to $410 million in Forbes' latest look at the business of basketball. Mark Cuban thinks every NBA team will be worth $1 billion within 10 years. We estimate Jordan's current net worth at $750 million. His earnings prowess shows no sign of letting up and should land him a spot on Forbes billionaire list in the coming years.

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Tags: NKE
27Comments
Feb 28, 2014 4:41PM
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I knew the haters would be out and about for this article so I figured I'd come on over and say...Shut your freakn' cake holes.  This man provided entertainment for millions and still does to this day.  He is ultra competitive and started with nothing just like you.  Don't like the fact that you have nothing?  Change the person in the mirror and then maybe you will be happy instead of trying to denounce others success. 
Feb 28, 2014 3:17PM
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not after he gives his gold digger wife half
Mar 12, 2014 7:00PM
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I continually wonder why these mega-millionaire athletes, entertainers and celebrities aren't taking a section of the money they pay in taxes and opening minority schools where gangs and no-gooders are kept out. Public schools have to allow every loser in because they are government funded. This is one of the reason why so many people are now sending their children to private religious schools if they can afford it. Religion isn't even a big deal but necessary to get sanctioned. Trouble makers are told to go away and that's the end of it- no parents suing or organizing marches.

Private schools can expect their students to behave and not have teachers spend half their time dealing with discipline problems. In many cases the pay is low but the quality of life worth it plus you aren't dealing with a hierarchy of waste and corruption. Look at Detroit charging millions for non-existent computers and other equipment. The academic levels have proven time and again that the quality of education is above the public school level.

So, the next time you watch a star on TV talk about their coming from the 'hood', wonder how much they have given back from their millions to improve conditions. Even Oprah makes sure everyone knows she is supporting a girl's school in Africa (which is good) but she could organize celebrities to give to a school in the worst sections of LA or Chicago, etc. Cities with up to 6 major sports teams (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer.... ) could take 1 percent of their collective income and support whole school districts. It's tax deductible too so they wouldn't lose a penny.

Maybe instead of adopting a baby from Africa like all the other celebrities, they could take one minority child in the US out of poverty. It wouldn't get as much publicity but shouldn't charity start at home. Donating to all those overseas charity TV ads sees only pennies on the dollar ever reach the intended people. You have some person and their associated hierarchy making 6 figure incomes along with associated perks.

Feb 28, 2014 5:38PM
Feb 28, 2014 6:08PM
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it would be nice to have that kind of money,  if I did, I'd just make a lot of my friends and the fire department rescue squad happy
Mar 9, 2014 11:18PM
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make all the money u can. good luck in your golf.
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Hope he signed a Pre-Nup with his new wife shortly birthing too.  Dumb men go through menapause...trying to be 21 again---and end up the opposite!
Feb 28, 2014 4:06PM
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The G.O.A.T still G.O.A.Timeing..

Lebron? Kobe? Get outta here....

Feb 28, 2014 4:32PM
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Is it the shoes?

 

No Mars.

 

It's gotta be the shoes.

Mar 1, 2014 8:29PM
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"Doesn't it seem to be hypocritical to be a billionaire and a Democrat at the same time? To me there seems to be something intrinsically wrong with saying the rich have too much when you are rich themselves."

That's like saying it's hypocritical to be a Billionaire Republican and a Christian. It has never been about folks having too much, a person can have as much as they can EARN without depending on Too Big to Fail and Too Big To Jail. Then all the Government handouts to the Wealthy, That's what most folks are referring to, not the propaganda your type spreads.

Concerning Jordan, regardless of whether he's dirt Poor or filthy Rich, he's a Jerk. That's what most people don't like, it has little to do with his Wealth. Then there's the issue of any company selling Shoes at that price. What a freaking ripoff. Yet idiots continue to buy them. That's more a reflection of a Society that's clueless. But sure, go ahead and spread your propaganda, that's all your type really have.


Feb 28, 2014 5:35PM
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And then the government (federal - 39.6% and state - up to 11% more) take their cut, and he isn't left with much.
Feb 28, 2014 6:24PM
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 I know the left has taught us to hate the greedy rich, does that include those that are minorities? And why do these Democrats, like Jordan, Oprah or Soros have all this money anyway? I thought we were supposed to take it away from folks like them that have too much.

Doesn't it seem to be hypocritical to be a billionaire and a Democrat at the same time? To me there seems to be something intrinsically wrong with saying the rich have too much when you are rich themselves. Just like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton complaining about people not paying enough taxes when they themselves do not ANY pay taxes. I guess you have to be a Democrat to understand it.

Feb 28, 2014 6:39PM
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Hey, Jordy, I got handed the Obama Triple Play-you know, I lost my Doctor, then I lost my job, then I lost my health care insurance.  How about  loan?
Feb 28, 2014 5:29PM
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Retail sales are way down for all past and present.  He can do all the gambling he wants and that may present a problem down the line.  His ex will take him to the cleaners sooner or later or some other ho will and not taking his ex. 
Feb 28, 2014 3:14PM
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he has too much money!  noone needs that much!  he didnt earn that money, someone else made that happen!

 

pay your fair share jordan, you greedy hoarder!

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