He has insisted all along the way that his long legal battle was all about the power and pride of his name and not about a monetary victory. But even in Los Angeles, almost any litigator would be pleased to be part of the recent, much publicized $8.9 million federal court jury award to basketball legend Michael Jordan in his right of publicity suit against Dominick’s, a now-defunct grocery chain in Chicago that published an advertisement in a Sports Illustrated commemorative edition using the superstar’s likeliness.
This blog has posted before about Jordan’s suits against those who he says infringe on his right to control his name and likeness, including the recent appellate court remand of this case for retrial. During the federal court proceedings, Jordan and his team disclosed intriguing information about his business dealings and especially how pricey it can be for companies to garner his all-star endorsement for their products. Testimony in the case indicated that Nike paid the Hall of Famer $480 million from 2000 to 2012 and he rejected an $80 million offer to endorse headphones. The grocer’s counsel argued at trial that the disputed ad was worth not more than what it paid for it–$126,900.
Based on the disclosures, and notwithstanding Jordan’s self-proclaimed extreme care in picking parties with whom he will do business, at least one legal wag has pronounced the stinging verdict against the grocery a bargain since the awarded sum is 10 percent less than MJ’s announced standard $10 million endorsement pricing. Jordan has said he will donate the award from Safeway, Dominick’s parent company, to charity. A lot of cans of carrots will need to be sold to cover the sum and someone should page for cleanup on aisle three.