“Michael Jordan earns 5% royalty on every Air Jordan shoe sold”: How the Bulls legend amassed a rumored $2.1 billion fortune over the years

Amulya Shekhar
|Published February 28, 2021

Michael Jordan is both the greatest basketball player of all time as well as the richest. We look into how he made his billion-dollar fortune.

MJ played in the NBA at a time when player salaries were a miniscule fraction of what they are today. The league’s highest-paid player did not earn more than $1 million annually till the 1980s.

Magic Johnson was the first to crack the $10 million annual salary figure in 1995-96. Michael Jordan only led the league in earnings for 2 seasons, but as we all know, his major earnings are off the court.

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A breakdown of how Michael Jordan earned his billion-dollar fortune

Jordan’s career NBA earnings are to the tune of $93 million. But as the first and best sneaker salesman of all time, MJ blazed a new trail as a rookie.

He signed a contract with Nike that also included a clause for royalties. This was later extended as the AJ1 broke all of Nike’s sales projections in their first 2 months or so.

The Air Jordan 1 shoe is the most iconic piece of streetwear of all time. There could not have been a better ambassador for it than His Airness himself.

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Nike consolidated his deal with an offer of 5% royalties to the Bulls star for Jordan Brand sales. This is the deal that has allowed to earn the major chunk of his net worth – now reportedly over $2 billion.

The Jordan Brand generated over $3.1 billion in revenue in 2018-19, following that up with a robust $3.6 billion the following fiscal year. The 5% royalty on these sales alone ensured that Jordan earned more than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo these years.

In addition to this sneaker deal, Jordan has raked in hundreds of millions over the years from other endorsements. These include Hanes, Gatorade, Ultra Hair Products, Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Wheaties, Chevrolet and Upper Deck.

Despite his retirement nearly 18 years ago, Jordan remains USA’s most recognized and beloved athlete ever. Even today, polls across the country rank him as no. 1 in athlete popularity charts. This means that the endorsements and the sneaker money is unlikely to dwindle in the near future.

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About the author

Amulya Shekhar

Amulya Shekhar

Amulya Shekhar is a sports junkie who thrives on the thrills and frills of live sports action across basketball, football (the American variant works too), parkour, adventure sports. He believes sports connect us to our best selves, and he hopes to help people experience sports more holistically.

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