The six-time NBA champion said his Jordan Brand – which is thought to match his Nike deal by contributing $130 million a year to his annual earnings of around $300 million – represented the black community, working relentlessly to “erase the stain of racism” and counteract injustice worldwide.
Calling the brand a “family” and warning that “the worst remains the same” in society, Jordan backed his fury with funding by announcing that he will give around $10 million a year over the next decade to organizations dedicated to equality, social justice and educational causes.
“Jordan Brand is more than one man,” Jordan declared in a statement, speaking a week after Nike aligned its brand with the Black Lives Matter campaign by releasing an emotive advert that subverted its slogan to read “Just Don’t do It”.
“Our family now includes anyone who aspires to our way of life. Until the ingrained racism that allows our country’s institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of black people.”
Jordan is well-placed to donate the eye-catching figure. The brand generated a record $3.14 billion in revenue for the 12 months to May 2019, with a 10 percent rise in income allowing the 57-year-old to eclipse footballer Lionel Messi’s earnings through shoe sales alone.
He became a billionaire 10 years ago when he bought NBA team the Charlotte Hornets for $175 million, seeing the team skyrocket in value since then, reaching a value of $1.5 billion last year, according to Forbes.
Men who benefit from the educational institutions Jordan plans to support might expect to earn an average of around $2.2 million across their lifetime should they go on to receive a degree – a figure that Business Insider estimates Jordan makes in less than three days.
Jordan’s announcement received a mixed reception from the public. “That is kindness and leadership in a big way,” said one, applauding the statesmanlike approach that has seen some supporters suggest the sporting icon should embark upon a political career.
“It surprises me people even have that kind of money in the first place. I pray the money will be used the best way possible.”
Others were more critical. “Amazing to see how easily folks can be bought,” one argued.
“This is not a result. Ain’t even got the money yet. Is it from his pocket? What exactly does he plan to do? Is this just for the cameras? This isn’t news – it’s a stunt.”
Sports host Field Yates called the pledge a move of “outstanding generosity,” causing a follower to reply: “Over a ten-year span that will look like pennies for the Jordan brand.
“It’s a great thing to donate either way, but you’re exaggerating how large of a donation it actually was.”
Jordan has increased his philanthropic spending in recent years, including a $7 million investment in two family clinics in 2017 and seven-figure donations to the American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish, Friends of the Children and other charities.
He sparked a row last week when he issued another statement describing himself as “deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry” at the fallout and protests following the killing of George Floyd, with some fans claiming his words added to his legacy, opposed by cynics who felt his sentiments were commercially driven.
In the afterglow of hit documentary ‘The Last Dance’, analysts and some of Jordan’s former Chicago Bulls teammates have also inferred that an unedifying level of self-interest underpins the motivations of the basketball great.
“It made Michael Jordan look like a superhero and everybody else look like a villain,” observed former NBA champion Kendrick Perkins, speaking to ESPN.
“There are certain things that are never supposed to be said or spoken of. [He] didn’t have to tear down other people to praise his greatness.”