Just Do It: Does Nike Still Own Air Jordan?

You might be wondering: does Nike still own Air Jordan? You’re not alone. If you’re feeling curious, click here to read more now!

In 1984, Nike teamed up with one of the most talented and influential NBA players of all time – Michael Jordan.

At the time, he was just an NBA rookie, though it was apparent he was on a path to world stardom. Only 2 years after his Nike deal, they had sold over $100 million worth of Jordan merchandise.

Almost 30 years later, the Air Jordan remains one of the most coveted, fashionable, worn, collectible sneakers in existence.

The question is, after all those years, does Nike still own Air Jordan?

Keep reading to learn all about Michael Jordan’s Nike deal, the sneakers, and his piece of the pie.

How Did It All Begin?

During his sophomore year of high school, Jordan was seen as “too short” to play on the varsity team. Determined to stand out from the crowd, he became the star player of the junior team and grew another 4 inches that year. 

He went on to become the star of his high school and was recruited by multiple colleges. It was during the 1982 NCAA Championship game that he scored a game-winning jump shot, which he says was the turning point in his career.  

Just a year before he was scheduled to graduate, the Chicago Bulls recruited Jordan as their 3rd overall pick.

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He played for the NBA for 15 seasons and won 6 championships with the Bulls. On his NBA legends profile, he’s revered as the greatest basketball player of all time.

The Birth of the Air Jordan

Believe it or not, when Nike first approached Michael Jordan for a collaboration, he wasn’t too keen. Simply put, he didn’t like the shoes.

David Falk, Michael Jordan’s sports agent, reminded a reporter in an interview that Nike wasn’t the driving force in the 80s that it is today. In fact, Converse was the more popular entity, Adidas coming in at a close second. 

Nike was persistent, though. Not only did they need Jordan, but they saw a place for him with the company. Because of their dedicated interest, Falk encouraged Jordan to make a deal. Jordan did, and his iconic brand was born.

The Deal

In 1984, the year Nike signed a deal with Michael Jordan, Jordan told the New York Times that he hoped little kids would pick up on the shoes. 

They most certainly did. Just over 10 years after the initial deal, the Jordan franchise was so huge that Nike gave it its own brand. Just a few years after that, in 2003, Nike went on to purchase Converse too.

Even though the Jordan brand is still a part of Nike (as a subsidiary), it truly has its own identity. Michael Jordan himself has been actively involved since the beginning, helping to lead the team of designers, marketers, and the advisory board alike.

Of all the Nike shoes ever made, the Air Jordan is arguably the most iconic shoe to date.

The Air Jordan 1 Was the First Sneaker

The sneaker that started it all, famously known as the Air Jordan 1, was created with variations in color and design.

Released from 1985 to 1986 originally, it also jumpstarted the retrograde era in 1994, just after Jordan’s retirement from basketball.

In 2001, it came back again with a mid-cut design, showcasing the Jumpman branded top. 7 years later, Jordan re-released the original high-top sneaker.

The Air Jordan 4 Was the First Global Sneaker

Nike’s Air Jordan 4 was the first to get released on the global market. Spike Lee featured the shoe in his movie “Do the Right Thing,” and Nike went on to feature the director in their ads for the new shoe.

This Jordan release is famous for being on the NBA superstar’s feet when he made “The Shot.” 

“The Shot” people refer to was the series winner in Game 5 of the NBA’s 1989 First Round between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls.

The Money

Whether or not players like Kobe Bryant or Lebron James surpassed Michael Jordan as basketball players is often up for debate in conversations all over the world.

The NBA still considers MJ to be the best who’s ever lived. One truth that can’t be argued is the fact that no player even comes close to Jordan’s monetary sneaker success.

Jordan hasn’t played professionally in 20 years, yet just last year, at the end of 2019, the Jordan brand hit $3.14 billion.

What’s Michael’s take from that number? It’s around $130 million, whereas Lebron James’ annual sneaker salary is about $32 million.

In fact, the Jordan brand sells more than all of the other NBA player sneaker collaborations combined. That’s a stark difference from his first year with Nike, in which he earned $500,000.

Does Nike Still Own Air Jordan?

The Jordan brand is a subsidiary of Nike, so, while it acts as it’s own brand and company, Nike still owns it.

Michael Jordan is on the board of directors for both Jordan and Nike. He’s an integral part of the Jordan brand and the company as a whole.

While Michael Jordan does have partial ownership of the Jordan brand, to what extent is unclear. Whether he makes his $130 million a year from just royalties or also has a large equity stake in the company or both, is between Nike and the star athlete himself.

The Air Jordan Is a Shoe of the Past, Present, and Future

2019 saw an increase in sales for the Jordan brand, despite the fact that Michael Jordan himself hasn’t played professional ball in decades.

The Air Jordan is the statement sneaker of the century, both in function, style, and class.

Air Jordans aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, nor will they ever go out of style. From the Air Jordan 1 to a variety of retro editions, we’ve got all the Jordan kicks you need.

Do you want to find out about a particular Jordan sneaker or have a question about future inventory? Contact us for any questions or comments you have!

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