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When it Comes to Sports Brands, Michael Jordan is Still the King

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 3, 2011 01:03 PM

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden may be a rising star, but he has a long way to go to take on the king, by which we mean Michael Jordan.

MJ hasn’t played professional basketball since 2003 and hasn’t won a championship since 1998, yet he has one of the strongest, shiniest brands of any celebrity out there.

Forbes estimates “that Jordan earned $60 million over the past year mainly through his endorsement deals with Nike, Gatorade, Hanes, Upper Deck, 2K Sports and Five Star Fragrances.” Of course, he also has five restaurants and a car dealership of his own in North Carolina. Plus, he’s got a day job as the majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

During Jordan’s playing days he was earning $50 million annually at his peak from sponsorships. While many of his sponsors have been with him for some time, Forbes notes that 2K signed him last year to be on the cover of NBA 2K11, which went on to sell five million panels  and become the best-selling NBA video game in history.

Jordan's deal with Nike started when he graduated from college in 1984. The five-year deal, worth $2.5 million, must have felt like big bucks to him then. The Jordan brand now pulls in more than $1 billion annually, “with MJ getting a piece of the action,” the site notes. “The Jordan Brand’s market share of the U.S. basketball shoe market is 71% according to SportsOneSource,” Forbes reports.

So what does this guy have that you don’t other than six NBA championships? Well, people just plain like him. “Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research produce an N-Score for celebrities that measures appeal, likability and awareness,” Forbes reports. “No athlete comes close to matching MJ’s stats who has an N-Score of 682, nearly 300 points higher than any other sports figure.”

Two things that have also helped Jordan is that he always steers clear of controversial subjects and he comes from an era in which celebrities didn’t get watched as closely as they do now.

Now don’t you wish you could be like Mike?

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