It turns out Michael Jordan is as philanthropic as he is litigious.
The legendary former player and current Charlotte Hornets owner donated millions of dollars to 23 charities helping Chicago children after winning lawsuits against two midwestern supermarket chains, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Jordan sued Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s over their use of his name in a 2009 advertisement in Sports Illustrated commemorating his induction to the Hall of Fame. A jury awarded the former Bulls star $8.9 million in the suit against Dominick’s, and he settled with Jewel-Osco for an undisclosed sum. He had previously promised to donate the net proceeds of the suits to charity.
From the Tribune:
“I care deeply about the city of Chicago and have such incredible memories from my years there,” Jordan said in a news release. “The 23 charities I’ve chosen to make donations to all support the health, education and well-being of the kids of Chicago. Chicago has given me so much and I want to give back to its kids — the city’s future.”
Jordan said at the time of his federal court victory in August that the case was “never about the money” and he only brought it to protect the value of his name and image. He took the stand twice during a weeklong trial that revealed details of how he and his advisers carefully ration the use of his identity to maximize his earnings, which remain higher than any basketball player more than a decade after his retirement.”
Jordan’s comment that the suit wasn’t about the money doesn’t seem entirely accurate. It wasn’t about the money in the short term, but to some degree you could say the end goal was maximizing his long-term earning potential by sending a message about how seriously Jordan takes his image for those seeking to earn a buck off of his likeness without his consent.
On one hand, Jordan has more than enough wealth that he need not to go after supermarkets to live a plush lifestyle. On the other hand it’s hard to fault Jordan for being assertive in going after those who blatantly use his name for profit without going through proper channels.
At the end of the day, Jordan transferred millions of dollars from large companies to children’s charities, which is actually pretty admirable.