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"His Airness" Still King of Signature Sneakers

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Felix Richter

More than 17 years after playing his last NBA game, Michael “Air” Jordan still has the power to captivate sports fans around the world. That power was on full display this week, when the release of a 10-part documentary focusing on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls had social media buzzing with excitement not only in the United States but internationally. “The Last Dance” created by ESPN and distributed by Netflix outside the U.S. received glowing reviews from both fans and critics after the first two episodes aired on ESPN Sunday night.

While more than two decades have passed since his glory day with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan remains one of the most iconic athletes in the world to this day, and certainly the wealthiest. As of April 2020, Jordan's net worth is estimated at $2.1 billion, making him one of the few athletes to join the billionaires' circle. According to Forbes, Jordan’s annual earnings amount to $145 million, of which the lion’s share ($130 million) comes from his long-standing shoe partnership with Nike. The Jordan brand has long become a household name among sneaker fans and no other NBA player, past or present, comes close to what Jordan was able to achieve in the world of athletic footwear.

As the following chart shows, several current NBA stars make eight figures a year with signature shoes, but even LeBron James, Jordan’s heir apparent, doesn’t come close to matching Jordan’s sneaker income. According to Forbes, James' Nike shoe deal nets him $32 million a year, which makes him the best of the rest but no match for "His Airness".

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