Basketball mega-star and businessman Michael Jordan has built an empire by protecting his name and brand. The six-time NBA championship winner says that he took the motto “Be Like Mike” so seriously that it evolved from a motivational slogan for kids that encourages honest and hard work into a business acumen that is responsible for his over billion net worth.
Examples of this in his career can be seen in his selection of endorsement deals and how he marketed himself. He was selective, a lesson he learned from the “Julius Erving School of Business for Athletes,” an informal education received from listening closely to one who is considered of the greatest basketball players ever to pick up the ball.
This careful curation of high-earning and ranking endorsement deals includes names like Wheaties, McDonald’s, Gatorade, and Nike, where his Brand Jordan has been one of its leading shoe lines.
In 2021, the Jordan Brand led Nike’s fourth-quarter sale surge, Sportico stated, that it “was up 96% to $12.3 billion, helping the athletic goods maker post a 19% year-over-year sales gain to $44.5 billion. For itself, the brand ended the May 31 fiscal year with revenue up 31%, earning them $4.7 billion, despite some of the setbacks companies experienced during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was an endorsement win that has proven to elevate not just his personal stock, but secure generation wealth for his offspring. But one endorsement that came across his desk could have possibly done the reverse, despite it offering him a cool million every year if he were to align with them.
In a 1992 interview with Playboy magazine, he was asked about endorsement deals he turned down.
He said, “Two or three years ago [so around the late 80s], Quaker Oats came to me to endorse Van Kemp’s pork and beans: Beanee Weenees, I think it was called. You ever heard of Beanee Weenees pork and beans? It was close to a million bucks a year.”
The money looked good, but the six-time MVP winner said to himself, “I’m saying, Beanee Weenees? How can I stand in front of a camera and say I’ll eat Beanee Weenees?”
He said the name was a dealbreaker, stopping him dead in his tracks.
Jordan has made his wealth as a businessman, not as a baller. In his career as an athlete, he made less than $100 million, the Insider notes. But with his selective model in hand and his careful brand protection at the top of his mind, he made 100,000 times more.