In a recent article by Forbes, it was reported that the Jordan brand is now worth an estimated $4 billion. With that kind of value, it is no wonder that companies are vying for a piece of the pie.
But who owns the Jordan brand?
That answer might surprise you.
- Michael Jordon Early Career
- So, What Did He Do?
- The Nike Connection
- The Andre Agassi Connection
- Members of Team Jordans
- So, Are There Any Downsides?
- Want to Know Who Owns Other Famous Brands?
- So, Who Owns The Jordan Brand?
Michael Jordon Early Career
Before MJ had his own brand, he was just a kid from North Carolina who loved playing ball. The only obstacle in his way was the University of North Carolina’s basketball team: The Tar Heels. At this point in time, Jordan was not even eligible to play for UNC due to his age and academic status.
So, What Did He Do?
Well, naturally, MJ decided to bypass all that red tape by simply joining the team as a walk-on. He then made his way into the starting line-up and eventually became a member of the varsity squad before he could even play in a single game. Needless to say, this put Jordan on the map in a big way. Unfortunately, his national fame also meant that he had to deal with even more pressure when it came to lacing up for the big game.
That is where Adidas came into play: they were the first company to endorse him and create shoes that were catered specifically for his game. It was not all that common for people to play basketball in Adidas back then, but MJ was actually one of the few who stuck with them.
Despite all that, Jordan still managed to put his own personal touches on things by writing “Jordan” onto the heel of every shoe he wore. This helped him gain even more visibility and set up what would eventually become the Air Jordan brand.
The Nike Connection
By far the most visible branch of ownership, Nike definitely owns a huge portion of the Jordan brand. In 1984, Phil Knight and his company, Nike, struck a $500,000 deal to be the official shoe sponsor of Jordan.
Over time, though, his contracts with Nike became an issue. Not only would they prevent him from associating himself with other companies, but Jordan’s likeness was also being used to sell products that he did not have a hand in creating. Even after Michael left the game of basketball, his name still remained associated with Nike’s “Jordan” brand.
After years of back and forth, Michael decided to take things into his own hands…
The two ended their partnership in 2003 when Jordan decided to switch over to the Adidas brand. At that time, Nike released a statement saying that their relationship had run its course and it was time to go their separate ways.
In 2006, Nike struck another deal with Jordan Brand, this time for $300 million to be the sole provider of Nike Air Jordans. So, in essence, when you are wearing a pair of Jordans, you are actually putting on a Nike shoe. Sure, they might have the Jumpman logo stitched to the side instead of a swoosh, but they are definitely still a Nike shoe.
In 2016, it was announced that Jordan Brand had become a subsidiary of the Swoosh. In an official press release from Nike’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker, he stated: “This decision will enable us to more effectively leverage Michael’s unmatched global appeal, inspirational leadership, and athletic success to inspire consumers worldwide of all ages.”
How Nike Bought Out the Jordan Brand?
While Michael Jordan may be one of Nike’s most lucrative assets, his time with them was far from perfect. There had always been some tension between him and Phil Knight, which only got worse when he decided to leave for another shoe company. That move was met with instant backlash.
Nike still wanted MJ to be part of their team, so they struck up a deal that allowed him to have creative control over everything that bore his logo. That was a win-win for both parties, but Nike still retained the rights to the “Air Jordan” name. This meant that Michael could not use his own brand to sell any products he created outside of basketball-related items.
The Andre Agassi Connection
Something that might surprise you about the Jordan brand is their relationship with tennis legend Andre Agassi. Back in 2007, he was brought on as an “advisor” to the company, helping them design the “AO 2” tennis shoe that he wore during the 2007 U.S. Open.
Members of Team Jordans
Since this is one of the more interesting aspects of the Jordan brand, let’s take some time to go over who works on making sure everything is up to par.
First and foremost, Michael Jordan is the biggest name affiliated with the Jordan brand. Not only does he own a large portion of the company, but he is also there to help guide it in the right direction whenever needed. When you need someone to give feedback on shoes or design ideas, MJ has your back for sure. He has even been known to pop his head into a retail store from time to time just to see what is going on with the latest release.
Another big name involved with Jordan Brand is Tinker Hatfield, who is one of Nike’s most sought-after designers. He has been with Nike for more than three decades, and even though he did not work on the original Air Jordan 1, he did design the Air Jordan 3. Since then, Hatfield has worked on all but one of the releases associated with Jordan Brand.
And there’s more…
There are also a handful of creative directors that keep things running behind the scenes. These individuals help guide everything from design to advertising and marketing.
Last but certainly not least, there is the Jordan Brand team: a group of athletes and industry insiders who have been working on the brand for at least five years. Some of these names include Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Candace Parker, and more!
When it comes to being affiliated with this brand, you have got to have the skills to back up your name.
So, Are There Any Downsides?
People love their Air Jordans for a reason: not only do they look great, but many of them are really comfortable as well. However, all that comfort will not mean much if something were to go wrong.
Every year, the Jordan brand drops a slew of new models, and each one can vary in terms of quality. There have been plenty of instances where fans get their hands on a shoe only to realize that it is not what they expected. If you do decide on copping some Jordans for this year’s festivities, just make sure you are doing your due diligence first. Otherwise, you might end up with something that is not as well-crafted as it claims to be!
Want to Know Who Owns Other Famous Brands?
And to find out even more about Michael Jordan, take a look at his excellent book Driven from Within, or check out All About Michael Jordan: An Inspirational Biography and Lessons, Michael Jordan: The Life, The Legend of Michael Jordan, The Jordan Rules, or the excellent Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream, all available online in 2023.
Or for a reminder of his legendary status for your desk or shelf, how about the POP NBA: Bulls – Michael Jordan, the Funko POP! NBA: Michael Jordan Bulls White Warmup, the Michael Jordan North Carolina, or the Funko NBA: Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan Pop!
So, Who Owns The Jordan Brand?
Even though Nike has a huge stake in the Jordan brand’s ownership, they are not technically the real owners. That honor goes to one man: Michael Jordan himself. In 2006, it was announced that Jordan would buy out the remaining 49% of the Jordan brand that was owned by Nike. This move allowed him to become the full owner of his namesake company which he claimed would allow him more creative control over what happens with the Jordans line.
All told, Michael Jordan’s net worth is currently estimated at around $1.65 billion.
Michael Jordan had to start his own company after things got problematic with Nike: he owns the brand and is the only one besides Nike that can use the name “Jordan” in merchandise. With all that said, MJ is still associated with Nike since they own the rights to use the name “Air Jordan.”
So, you see, Michael Jordan is the owner of his brand but not of the name “Jordan.” You know now who owns the Jordan brand and can use this knowledge to impress your sneakerhead friends!