Michael Jordan is undeniably one of the greatest of all time.
He's known as many things: the former No. 23 of the Chicago Bulls, the namesake of a popular line of Nike sneakers, a gold medal Olympian, the savior of the Looney Tunes, one of the most recognizable people to play two sports professionally, and an incredible philanthropist.
Because he is such an incredible entity, it makes sense that he needs to protect his name as a brand. Endorsements are very carefully chosen and companies aren't allowed to use his name in advertising without the proper permission or compensation. If a company gets caught trying to imply endorsement where there is none, they leave themselves open to a lawsuit.
A lawsuit for illegally using Jordan's name in an advertisement is exactly where Dominick's, a former Chicago-based supermarket chain, found themselves in 2009. Right before Jordan was to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the grocer took out this ad in the commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated:
At first glance, it seems innocuous enough.
A chain store from the city where Jordan helped earn six NBA titles during his legendary career wanted to recognize his achievement. A jury thought differently, though, and awarded the Space Jam star a settlement of $8.9 million in damages. When the verdict came through in August, Jordan explained in a public statement, according to CBS Sports, that it wasn't about the money:
"No one — whether or not they're a public figure — should have to worry about their identity being used without their permission. The case was not about the money as I plan to donate the proceeds to charity. It was about honesty and integrity. I hope this case sends a clear message, both here in the United States and around the world, that I will continue to be vigilant about protecting my name and identity. I also hope the size of the monetary reward will deter others from using someone else's identity and believe they will only pay a small penalty."
This week, Jordan made good on his promise that the funds would go to charity. He donated the entire sum to 23 different nonprofit charities in Chicago, including hospitals, after-school programs, and educational services. It's a true investment in the city that he called home for so many years and a testament that Michael Jordan really is one of the greats.
Cover image: Shutterstock