El Gráfico, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Michael Jordan, the GOAT, retired from the NBA two decades ago in 2003 at the age of 40.
While his greatness is universally acknowledged by nearly everyone, (although Gen Z doesn't cite him as their GOAT), his net-worth and influence would be astronomically higher than it is today.
Despite this, if Michael Jordan played today until the age of 40, he'd be an actively playing multi-billionaire athlete owner and investor with a net-worth exceeding $3 Billion (which is more than his current net worth).
Endorsements - $2.5 Billion
LeBron James' billion-dollar endorsement with Nike showcases the earning potential for today's athletes, and Michael Jordan's brand is the best selling athlete brand of all time. If LeBron's deal is worth 1 billion, Jordan's deal would surpass it.
We'll estimate that if MJ had today's information and athletes to compare himself to, he'd garner a greater chunk of royalties from Nike, easily doubling his stake of 5%, as well as receiving more direct cash to remain on Nike's roster during the height of his career due to bidders constantly trying to poach him.
Michael Jordan has made $1.3 Billion overall from Nike. If we simply doubled the royalties and increased his yearly retainer to what LeBron received right out of high school - Michael Jordan easily surpasses $2.5 Billion just from Nike alone.
Jordan would also receive the benefit of the athlete endorsement culture that tech startups participate in, and his massive influence would attract the attention of the world's biggest companies. Our conservative estimates places Michael Jordan's endorsement value at a minimum of double its current value.
Despite not playing in over 20 years, and not benefitting from the industry he created, Jordan still remains the highest paid athlete of all time.
Contracts - $500 Million
Recent contracts like Jaylen Brown's $304 million deal Considering Jordan's unparalleled influence and appeal, it's not far-fetched to imagine that he would command even more substantial earnings in the current sports landscape.
Michael Jordan's career earnings x 15 years playing would easily match, and likely surpass LeBron's career earnings, so if he played today he'd be able to count at least $500 million in salary from his NBA earnings, which dwarfs his actual earnings of $94 million.
Social Media - $5 Million
During Jordan's prime, social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok didn't exist. His influence had to rely solely on traditional media channels, such as TV and print, which limited the reach of his persona. In today's social media-driven world, athletes wield immense power to engage with fans directly, share their stories, and create a personal brand that extends beyond the court.
Given Jordan's charisma, dominance, and captivating playing style, it's safe to assume that he would have had a colossal social media presence, likely surpassing the most followed person on social media, Cristiano Ronaldo.
related: Most Influential: Messi v Ronaldo
He'd easily get more than 1 million per post, but since we know he'd not likely do much posting we'll cap it at around $5 Million (but Nike and other brand partners would surely have incentivized his posting with royalties, so it's likely this number would be much higher.
Although basketball isn't as global as soccer, we do know that Michael Jordan's greatness was so far reaching that people on every continent wanted to be like Mike. Michael Jordan's social media "net worth" would likely place him above LeBron, and with his charisma and work ethic more celebrated and understood, he'd be right up there with Messi and Ronaldo with his followers in the hundreds of millions.
This digital currency is an additional revenue stream, and he'd easily reap millions just in paid postings and access to his audience. Considering Michael Jordan is the most influential athlete of all time, his audience command alone would amount to at least $1 Billion in value, especially if Mr. Beast was offered the same for his network.
Investments - $2 Billion
As the undisputed most influential athlete of all time, Jordan's impact would be extremely attractive to every tech unicorn, with each inviting his investment.
His purchase of the Charlotte Hornets, which sold for $3 Billion after purchasing for $175 million, and a current personal net worth of $2 Billion would have easily been surpassed by his endorsements and earnings alone.
We're calculating that MJ would have to spend much more to purchase his NBA team, but he'd also have substantial more opportunities in the tech boom as the world's highest paid and most coveted pitchman.
With a substantially higher net worth, and investment opportunities being common amongst athletes, chances are MJ would have had the means and opportunity to purchase multiple teams in other sports, like the MLS and grown his portfolio even more.
Regardless of the era, Michael Jordan will forever remain an undisputed GOAT in the hearts of those who understand the greatness he brought to the game of basketball as well as the revenue opportunities created by him that current athletes reap the rewards from.
So next time someone questions whether who the most influential athlete of all time is, point them directly to the money, and how despite playing 20 years ago current athletes enjoying greater opportunities, still can't catch him.