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Michael Jordan officially becomes a billionaire - but not for the reason you might think





The NBA legend's wealth has finally tipped over into 10 figures - and it seems that he has a very unlikely man to thank.








Michael Jordan's unparalleled 20-year career at the top of basketball made him a household name even in countries - such as Britain - where basketball is very much a minority sport.

It wasn't just his exploits on court with the Chicago Bulls that made him famous - there was also his huge endorsement deals, most notably with sports gear giants Nike, whose 'Air Jordan' range of trainers have been best-sellers for 30-odd years now.

But as much as his income kept on piling up, Jordan never quite made billionaire status. Tiger Woods surpassed Jordan's wealth and became sport's first billionaire in 2009 - though it's believed that he dipped back under the line following his sex scandal and divorce - but Jordan himself always fell short.

Until now, that is, because Jordan has finally made it into the list of the world's billionaires, according to the American wealth bible that is Forbes magazine.


And the reason? The borderline-insane racist rant by former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Sterling's horrifying race hatred - which was beamed across the world after it was recorded by a former lover - prompted basketball authorities to demand that the ageing billionaire sell his team.

Sterling did as instructed - and received an eyewatering $2 billion from Microsoft co-founder Steve Ballmer.

Michael Jordan is still winning. He makes Forbes World's Billionaires List for the first time. » http://t.co/qzhUFAsi2W

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 2, 2015

Forbes claims that the size of Ballmer's offer took the sport by surprise, and sent values of all the sport's other teams skyrocketing.


And Jordan's majority shareholding in the Charlotte Hornets means that he is now worth over $1 billion for the first time - a fact that the magazine guessed at last year, and confirmed on Monday.

Forbes's article explains in more detail about how Jordan has now become the 513th richest man in America, and one of 290 new billionaires identified by the magazine:

"Most of his cash comes from Nike payouts on his iconic brand. The Jordan brand grossed an estimated $2.25 billion in 2013, earning his Airness some $90 million.

"But his most valuable asset is his stake in the Charlotte Hornets, worth more than $500 million. When ex-Microsoft MSFT +0.07% CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for a stunning $2 billion, values of all NBA teams skyrocketed, creating three new billionaires.

Jordan’s old boss Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls, joined the list with a fortune of $1.3 billion, and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander boosted his net worth to $1.6 billion."


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