Updated May 20th, 2020 at 18:56 IST

Nike Air Jordan's journey from struggling in the NBA to making billions per year

In 1984, a 21-year-old rookie Michael Jordan signed a five-year deal with Nike worth $500,000 per year. Now, the Nike Air Jordan brand earns around $3 billion.

Devika Pawar
Nike Air Jordan
| Image:self

In 1984, a 21-year-old rookie Michael Jordan signed a five-year deal with Nike worth $500,000 per year. Nike was a struggling company back then and Jordan himself preferred either Adidas or Converse. However, Nike agreed to give Jordan his signature line, which reportedly earned around $3.14 billion in 2019. 

Also read | Michael Jordan Nike contract: NBA legend and his journey towards becoming world's richest athlete with Nike Air Jordan

A struggling Nike signed a hesitant 21-year-old Michael Jordan

Before Jordan could establish himself as a basketball legend, Nike approached the then-NBA rookie. Nike was not one of the front-runners. However, both Adidas and Converse already had deals with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. His agent David Falk and mother Deloris convinced him to fly and meet Nike in Portland, who were ready to give Jordan his own signature brand 'Air Jordan'. In The Last Dance, the NBA legend revealed that his mother told him he would listen to them and attend the meeting, even though he might not like it.

Reports reveal that Jordan was not happy with the presentation and even said that he could not wear those shoes as they were 'devil colours'. However, Jordan still agreed to sign with Nike. In a recent interview, David Falk revealed that Nike had shown Jordan his entire line along with a VCR film of his highlights. Jordan, as per Falk, was maintaining a poker face with them which he continued when Nike took then out for dinner afterwards. After they had left, Jordan apparently informed Falk that he liked the brand and wants to sign with them. 

Also read | Michael Jordan Nike contract and Nike Air Jordan shoes: Michael Jordan earned $130 million from Nike in 2019 

The legendary Nike Air Jordan 1

Till today, The Nike Air Jordan 1 is known as the shoe which kick-started a revolution. When introduced for the first time, the Nike Air Jordan 1 was black and red, which was banned by the league for being controversial. However, the Chicgao Bulls legend continued to wear his shoe whenever he played at the Chicago Stadium. The NBA fined Jordan almost $5000 per game, which Nike paid for.

The shoe then retailed at $60 and reportedly earned the brand $126 million. The brand was predicted to just make $3 million. Rapper Nas, who appeared in The Last Dance, compared the shoe to a light saber. He added that one 'needed' the shoe to be like Jordan and was more than a status symbol.

Also read | Nike Air Jordan sales: Michael Jordan's autographed, game-worn Nike Air Jordan 1s from 1985 sold for record $560k

How much is Nike Air Jordan worth now?

Last year, the Nike Air Jordan brand made $3.14 billion in the fiscal year which ended in 2019. Currently, Jordan's line is selling more than any other player's apparel combined, according to reports. NBA stars like LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Mike Conley Jr, Blake Griffin, Maya Moore, Chris Paul, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Zion Williamson represent Jordan's sneaker brand. Reports further claim that Jordan's revenue from Nike makes up 90% of his annual income. 

The amount is reported to be $40 million more than the $90 million he made while playing in the NBA. As per Forbes, Jordan's current lifetime deal with the Nike is with $1.3 billion. 

Also read | Nike Air Jordan sales and Michael Jordan Nike contract: Michael Jordan's stock scales new heights after massive success of The Last Dance


Published May 20th, 2020 at 18:56 IST

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