Forbes released its list of highest paid retired athletes yesterday, and Michael Jordan’s estimated 2013 haul of $90 million more than doubled second place Arnold Palmer. In fact, they say Jordan made more money last year than any current athlete other than Floyd Mayweather. How did MJ make all that scratch?
Jordan’s hefty earnings are mostly attributable to the incredible success of Nike’s Jordan Brand. Jordan shoe sales in the U.S. grew 11% last year and the brand owns over half of the U.S. basketball shoe market. The combined basketball share of Nike and Jordan was 92% in 2013, according to SportsOneSource. Other partners for Jordan, the man, include Gatorade, Hanes, Upper Deck, 2K Sports, Novant Health and Five Star Fragrances. He also owns seven restaurants, a car dealership and 80% of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats (for more on MJ, see “How Michael Jordan Made $90 Million Last Year”).
For what it’s worth, LeBron James had endorsements that totaled an estimated $42 million last year. He makes $19 million per year playing basketball. If NBA owners had to compete on a truly open market (i.e. no salary cap or luxury tax) for his services, do you think his cumulative annual earnings would surpass Jordan’s? It’d be damn close.
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