Michael Jordan did his own grocery shopping back in his heyday. But getting a gallon of milk could’ve been more challenging than getting to the free-throw line at the height of his popularity in the 1980s and ‘90s.
That’s why Jordan had a special arrangement with Jewel-Osco, according to former Bulls teammate Brad Sellers.
“He told me he would call Jewel-Osco about 15 minutes before they closed, and let them know he was coming in,” Sellers told The Undefeated. “They would stay open later to let him shop.”
The emotional tolls of Jordan’s fame was chronicled in Episode 6 of the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance,” which focuses on Jordan’s Bulls and their last championship season in 1997-98. In the episode, Jordan is shown growing weary of the spotlight and all it entailed with mobs of people always near him and police escorts.
“You saw MJ doing laundry in the first few episodes and that was him back then, the country side of him, just living like a regular dude,” said Sellers, Jordan’s teammate from 1986-89. “But he just got bigger and bigger in basketball and to a point where he couldn’t go out. I remember saying to him one day, ‘Hey, M, how do you eat?’”
In exchange for Jewel-Osco staying open late, Sellers said Jordan would tip the workers well.
“He wasn’t making no $30 million a year; I’m sure at that time he was making less than a million,” Sellers said. “But it was a lot of money at the time and he made sure that he took care of people.”
Ironically, Jordan later sued the supermarket chain for using his name and likeness in a 2009 Sports Illustrated ad that congratulated him on his Basketball Hall of Fame induction. The ad included a large Jewel-Osco logo under the text. Terms of the settled deal were not disclosed.
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