Michael Jordan claims to be the $10 million man.
And he stood by it Wednesday even after an expert in sports economics testified that the use of Jordan’s name in an unauthorized 2009 Dominick’s ad was worth no more than $126,900.
Rodney Fort, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, told a jury at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago that he arrived at that number by imagining a hypothetical negotiation between the Chicago Bulls great and the now-defunct grocery chain.
But Jordan later took the witness stand for the second time in two days. And his attorney asked him if he would have let Dominick’s use his name for $127,000.
“Absolutely not,” Jordan said, shaking his head.
Dominick’s used Jordan’s name and number “23” in the ad that included a coupon for $2 off a Rancher’s Reserve steak. It appeared in a limited-edition issue of Sports Illustrated.
Jordan has twice told a jury he wouldn’t have given his blessing no matter how much the grocer and its parent company, Safeway, offered to pay him.
A federal judge has already ruled that Safeway violated the Illinois Right of Publicity Act. All that’s left for the jury to decide is damages. Closing arguments in the trial are expected Thursday.
Jordan testified Wednesday in a blue suit and red tie. A grin spread across his face when a Dominick’s attorney handed him a legal document to read during cross-examination.
Eventually, Jordan’s attorney realized the sports icon was without his reading glasses, prompting laughter throughout the courtroom.
“I forgot them today, I’m sorry,” Jordan said as he chuckled along. He later struggled to read text on a screen.
Fort earlier told jurors he saw a potential for Dominick’s and Jordan to reach an agreement based on his analysis of the supermarket’s advertising history and Jordan’s other contracts. Fort compared the Dominick’s ad to arrangements between Jordan and SiriusXM Radio, Mattel and a Japanese TV station.
SiriusXM Radio paid Jordan $500,000 for the use of his image in a commercial campaign that also included Elvis Presley and comedian Richard Pryor. Jordan’s lawyers contend he only enters into long-term deals worth $10 million or more, and they said the exposure in the SiriusXM commercial was worth $25 million to Jordan.
However, Jordan’s advisers shook their heads and exchanged glances in the courtroom gallery as Fort talked to jurors about the arrangements with Mattel and the Japanese TV station. Mattel paid $5,000 to Jordan to use his name as an answer in a trivia game, and the Japanese TV station offered $100,000 to Jordan to use footage of his theatrics with the Chicago Bulls in a documentary.
Jordan adviser Estee Portnoy has said Mattel was not allowed to use Jordan’s name or image to promote the game. And she said she didn’t turn down the $100,000 from the Japanese TV station, even though it was unnecessary. She told jurors she was simply “doing my job.”