A recent court ruling requires the owner of Chicago-based supermarket chain, Dominick’s, to pay Michael Jordan $8.9 million for using his name, without his permission, to promote their product in an advertisement.
The court decision was made in Chicago federal court, the city where Jordan won six NBA titles with the Bulls. The jury deliberated for six hours before coming to a conclusion, Friday night.
The case was concerning Dominick’s 2009 ad that used Jordan’s name. Lawyers for Safeway, Dominick’s owner, said Jordan should be paid $126,900 for the ad that was published in an issue of Sports Illustrated. The issue was a commemorative one, for Jordan’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. However, Jordan’s lawyers and Jordan himself insisted that he never would have made the deal, considering his endorsement deal history.
Andrew Zimbalist, sports economist, testified that Jordan’s fair market value for the ad was $10 million.
Zimbalist was brought in by Jordan’s lawyers.
Although the 52-year-old NBA legend did receive a large sum of money from the case, he reveals that he doesn’t plan to keep any of the reward, and that the point of the case was not about the money.
“I’m pleased with today’s verdict,” Jordan said in a statement. “No one—whether or not they’re a public figure—should have to worry about their identity being used without their permission. The case was not about the money as I plan to donate the proceeds to charity. It was about honesty and integrity. I hope this case sends a clear message, both here in the United States and around the world, that I will continue to be vigilant about protecting my name and identity. I also hope the size of the monetary reward will deter others from using someone else’s identity and believe they will only pay a small penalty.”
While the jurors were deliberating and coming up with the amount owed to Jordan, they sent a note to the judge, saying, “We need a calculator.”
During the trial, some of Jordan’s endorsement salary was disclosed for the first time. The player was paid $480 million by Nike between 2000 and 2012. Jordan also revealed having rejected a headphones deal worth $80 million.
While Jordan was fighting for “honesty and integrity” and to protect his name, Safeway was dealing with much more than this particular case. The company closed all of Dominick’s doors in 2013, after having bought the grocery store chain for $1.2 billion in 1998. The lawsuit with Jordan was just the cherry on top of this melted ice cream business venture.
And in addition to all of the trouble that the advertisement using Jordan’s name ahs caused, the ad itself didn’t do much for the company. Since the ad appeared in a special issue of Sports Illustrated, readers didn’t want to tear out the coupon ad. Only two people were discovered to have used the $2 steak coupon inside.
Jordan, elated about the court’s decision, joked to the media, “I’m so used to playing on a different court.”
Some of his jurors were apparently pretty big fans of the basketball player, two of them asking for photographs after the case was closed, which he happily obliged.
Jordan has recently been on a venture to keep his name clear of unwanted labels. Thought this case was a victory, he did recently lose a different battle to stop a Chinese company, Qiaodan Sports.
The company name means “Jordan,” has a logo that resembles the Jumpman, and uses the number 23.