Jordan might be the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and have endorsement deals with Hanes and Gatorade, but we all know most of his fortune comes from his deal with Nike. Back in 1984, Jordan turned down higher-paying deals with Adidas and Converse (the mainstream brand at the time) to sign with Nike.
As Nike was on the lookout for other potential stars to represent their brand, they stumbled on Barkley, one of the top five picks from Jordan's draft class. As Barkley revealed in his 60 Minutes interview, when Nike first gave him a call, he was ecstatic to just find out they'd give him a free pair of shoes!
“Nike called and said we are going to send you shoes that will last about a week. I thought to myself, this is amazing! Wait! You're actually going to pay me too?” Barkley said.
Michael Jordan's advice to Barkley
Here's the full excerpt of Barkley's conversation with Jordan leading to his million-dollar advice from his podcast ‘The Steam Room' with fellow Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson:
“We both go to Nike. They signed Michael, they signed me. Michael gave me some great advice one time. He said ‘hey man, why do you need all that money?' I was like, ‘dude what are you talking about?' He says, ‘I was looking at your contract, you make about $3 million, you should tell Nike you only want a million and the rest in stock options.' I said, ‘I will run it by my guys.' This dude is the greatest basketball player of all time – let's do it,” Barkley said.
Leaving $2 million off the table was certainly a tough choice for Barkley to make at the time, considering the wages players made back then were nowhere near what star players make today. But he knew Jordan was one of one, and as we already know, his risk paid off.
While Barkley hasn't reached billionaire status compared to Michael Jordan, he still earns millions off passive income. As of today, Barkley claims he's already made more than 10x his original investment with Nike and still has stocks in the company.