Michael Jordan on Tuesday named several Chicago-area charities he has picked to benefit from his recently settled legal battle with the Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s grocery chains.
Fittingly, the Chicago Bulls great said he has chosen 23 charitable organizations that will receive the net proceeds from the undisclosed settlement. They include After School Matters, the award-winning arts and education program founded by former Chicago first lady Maggie Daley, and The Ounce of Prevention Fund, led by Illinois first lady Diana Rauner.
“I care deeply about the city of Chicago and have such incredible memories from my years there,” Jordan said in a statement. “The 23 charities I’ve chosen to make donations to all support the health, education and well-being of the kids of Chicago. Chicago has given me so much, and I want to give back to its kids — the city’s future.”
After School Matters CEO Mary Ellen Caron said in a statement her organization is “thrilled” to receive the donation from Jordan.
“His support tells our young people that they are important and that is such a wonderful message for them to receive,” Caron said.
The other organizations set to benefit are Casa Central, Chicago Scholars, Chicago Youth Programs, Children’s Literacy Initiative, Christopher House, Common Threads, Erikson Institute, Gary Comer Youth Center, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund — Illinois, KEEN Chicago, La Casa Norte, La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Make-A-Wish Illinois, New Moms, New Teacher Center, Project Exploration, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Sinai Health System, SOS Children’s Village Illinois and Tutoring Chicago.
“We are proud to receive this donation from Michael Jordan, and honored to be in such great company with other organizations that are making a difference in Chicago,” Megan Meyer, a spokeswoman for Ounce of Prevention, said in a statement. “He has brought so much to the city of Chicago, and now his impact will be even greater.”
Jordan did not reveal the size of the donations, citing the terms of the settlement.
“The work these groups do each and every day to help kids is inspiring,” Jordan said in his statement. “I feel strongly about the importance of teaching and mentoring, of helping kids with disabilities and illnesses and providing opportunities for at-risk youth. I hope the donations can help these organizations continue to make positive changes within their neighborhoods and throughout the city.”
Jordan settled with Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s for an undisclosed sum last month, nearly six years after suing both grocery chains over a pair of congratulatory ads that used his name in a 2009 limited-edition issue of Sports Illustrated published to commemorate his induction into basketball’s hall of fame.
Jewel’s ad featured a pair of white-and-red sneakers with the number “23” on the tongues. It called Jordan “a shoe in” and saluted “a fellow Chicagoan who was ‘just around the corner’ for so many years.”
The Dominick’s ad went further. It used Jordan’s name and number “23” and included a $2-off coupon for a Rancher’s Reserve steak. Before that case even went to trial, a judge ruled the conglomerate that owned Dominick’s had violated the Illinois Right of Publicity Act.
Jordan won an $8.9 million verdict against Dominick’s in August. Lawyers for the defunct grocer later fumed about the result, calling the verdict “grossly excessive” in a court filing. They asked U.S. District Judge Robert Blakey to either reduce the amount Jordan could collect or order a new trial.
The settlement announced in November ultimately resolved both the Dominick’s case, as well as the Jewel matter, which had been set for trial this month.
Jordan appeared daily at Chicago’s federal courthouse for the Dominick’s trial, and he even testified in Blakey’s downtown courtroom. Crowds waited outside the courthouse doors each day to catch a glimpse of Jordan walking to a waiting car. When the jury handed down its considerable verdict, Jordan was all smiles and promised the cash would go to charity.
“This was never about the money,” Jordan said.
However the trial opened a rare window into the lucrative business of being Michael Jordan. His lawyer compared him to the “Hope Diamond,” and his business advisers said they decided early in his career to bundle deals for the use of his identity in long-term contracts worth $10 million or more.
Even in retirement, Jordan’s endorsement income rose from $28 million in 2004 to $75.5 million in 2012, one sports economist testified.