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by Cynthia Wright

Say what you want about Michael Jordan, the man knows how to turn a profit. A recent Forbes article discussed that even after his retirement eight years ago, the Jordan brand is still a profitable franchise. According to the article, Jordan racked in approximately 60 million dollars last year – without touching a basketball.

Like most star athletes, Jordan had his pick of endorsements throughout his career and most, like Gatorade, Hanes, Upper Deck and Nike are as synonymous of Jordan as much as his red Chicago Bulls jersey. Jordan has also inked endorsement deals with 2K Sports and Five Star Fragrances; he also bought five restaurants and a car dealership in North Carolina.

However, Nike is still Jordan’s most profitable endorsement. Although, Jordan inked a $2.5 million contract with the company, straight out of college in 1984 – his endorsement checks are higher now since his brand has exploded. His annual revenues from Nike alone bring him an estimated $1 billion, with Jordan’s brand market share coming to a whooping 71%. Nike follows after with a share of 22%, with Adidas and Reebok owning the rest at 3% and 2%. Not to mention, Jordan has other well-known athletes under his brand umbrella, such as Derek Jeter, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Denny Hamlin also bring a considerable amount of traction insuring Jordan’s financial coiffures remain full.

During his tenure with the Bulls, he was banking about $50 million from his endorsement deals and during his last two years with the NBA dynasty, he made $63 million in combined salary.

Neilson and E-Poll Market Research produce an N-Score for celebrities that measure their awareness; general appeal and likeability, Jordan’s N-Score comes out to be 682. He is the highest scored athlete by nearly 300 points. His awareness is ranked at 71%; with the only athletes above him being Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson and OJ Simpson (easy to guess why). His rate of being liked by the public is charted at 93%, which shows how far his presence extends. Current b-baller LeBron James, whom many believed would follow in Jordan’s footsteps, has a likeability of 51% – nowhere near close.

Many attribute Jordan’s ability to be in the mind and heart of the consumer was his ability to stay negatively out of the headlines. Unlike his counterparts James and Kobe Bryant – while, they may be popular – their popularity has been somewhat tainted by their off-the-court extracurricular activities. Not that Jordan was a saint, there have been plenty of tales surrounding his gambling and philandering way but being that Jordan’s popularity was amassed before the era of social media. Did the lack of celebrity profiling help cement his legacy? Perhaps, one thing is for sure, Jordan’s business growth is undeniable and with his ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats, his stock will go nowhere but up.

Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.

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