The fact that Michael Jordan is one of the most fascinating athletes of all time was once again demonstrated last year, when the joint ESPN/Netflix documentary series The Last Dance captured the attention of tens of millions of viewers around the world. The global popularity of Air Jordan, the athlete, the icon, the brand has paid a healthy dividend over the years, turning Jordan into a billionaire and the highest-paid athlete of all time.
That’s according to a recent report published by Sportico, a digital platform covering the $500 billion sports industry. According to Sportico, Jordan’s inflation-adjusted career earnings amount to $2.62 billion, with a large chunk of that money coming from the ever-flowing license payments from Nike. In the fiscal year ended May 31, 2021, the Oregon-based sportswear giant sold merchandise worth $4.7 billion under the Jordan brand, with MJ’s annual take amounting to more than $100 million according to estimates from Forbes.
Jordan is not the only basketball player in the top 10, with his heir-apparent LeBron James ranked 7th with career earnings of $1.17 billion. Interestingly, three golfers made the top 5 on Sportico’s list, with Tiger Woods the only athlete besides Jordan to crack the $2 billion threshold. Soccer superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are also featured in the top 10, alongside with Roger Federer, Floyd Mayweather and Michael Schumacher, who was injured in a tragic skiing accident in 2013 and whose current medical condition is unknown to the public.