Money Jordans

In 1984, Michael Jordan was the hottest rookie in the NBA and everyone wanted a pair of his Air Jordans. In 2020, the shoes have seen a resurgence in pop culture.

Right now there is a docu-series called The Last Dance on ESPN (US) and Netflix (Global). The Last Dance gives a behind the scenes look into the 1997/1998 season, chronicling the Chicago Bulls journey towards their sixth NBA title in eight years. It broke records in the US, becoming the most viewed ESPN documentary ever. As we have seen with other successful docu-series this year, the conversation about the show follows organically on social media. The Last Dance has been the number one trending topic on Twitter after every weekly release. After the premiere in week one, 25 out of the 30 trending terms on Twitter were all related to the documentary.

I’m not surprised, though. The content in the show is stunning. The unreleased footage and interviews make you feel as though you are following a team playing today. It also helps that the narrative is based on one of the greatest athletes of our time.

Every week viewers have been treated to shots of the old-school gear including warmup jackets, black and red tracksuits and those crimson red jerseys from the early ’90s. The result? Chicago Bulls merchandise sales are up 45% since The Last Dance premiered on April 19.

On StockX, a popular marketplace to buy and sell sneakers, Jordan sneaker sales are up 40 per cent compared to the month before The Last Dance premiered. The coveted Jordan 1 has only been released a handful of times, the most recent was 2015 with Jordan 1 Retro Chicago. This shoe’s resale value has nearly doubled since Episode 5 came out last week. On the release day of that episode, StockX saw the highest single-day traffic on its Jordan 1 page in company history.

Episode 5 featured the deal brokered between Michael’s agent David Falk and Nike, to create what is now the most famous sneaker in the world. Michael was paid $2.5 million over five years, plus royalties, to be the face of the sneaker. Nike estimated they would sell $3 million in sneakers over four years. According to Falk, Nike made $126 million in year one. 


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Last year, Nike’s Jordan brand generated $3.14 billion in revenue for the 12 months ending in May 2019. Michael Jordan’s cut was $130 million. In total, his off-court income is roughly $2.1 billion since he entered the league in 1984, almost 20 times the $90 million in salary he made in 15 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. I bet everyone in the NBA wishes they could be like Mike. 

With two episodes left, I wonder how long it will be until the rage dies down. Will I see as many MJ jerseys and Jordan sneakers in a month when the show is finally over? Not likely, but the amount of money MJ continues to make will increase year-over-year thanks to the Jordan brand. Perhaps one day he will be worth more than the Chicago Bulls (Current value $3.2 billion). That will be sure to put a smile on his face.