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Michael Jordan Enjoys a Different Kind of Court Win
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After using his image without permission in a magazine ad, Dominick’s Finer Foods was ordered to pay the former basketball star $8.9 million in damages.

Summary: After using his image without permission in a magazine ad, Dominick’s Finer Foods was ordered to pay the former basketball star $8.9 million in damages.

According to NBC News, a now-defunct grocery store chain has been ordered to pay Michael Jordan millions of dollars after they used his name in a steak advertisement in a 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated without seeking his permission.


Jurors were instructed to focus on the market value of the basketball legend’s name in reaching their verdict, which was $8.9 million. Jordan’s lawyers had asked the jury for $10 million, arguing the amount properly valued a one–time use of his name. added that Jordan said $10 million was a fair amount because he would not have accepted a deal for less.

Jordan said that the case “was never about the money.” In fact, he’s pledged to give his court award to charities in Chicago, where he won six NBA titles while playing for the Chicago Bulls.

In 2013, Jordan was sued for a paternity test and child support.

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Jordan commented, “I’m so used to playing on a different court. This shows I will protect my name to the fullest. … It’s my name and I worked hard for it … and I’m not just going to let someone take it.”

Ever the gentleman, Jordan posed for photos with jurors after the case was over.

Previously, a judge had ruled that Dominick’s Finer Foods, which was owned by Safeway, was liable for using Jordan’s name without his permission. The only issue remaining for the jury to ponder was the amount of damages the chain should pay.

The 2009 ad congratulated Jordan on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The ad also featured a $2 coupon for a steak.

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Jurors deliberated for about six hours before returning a verdict. The only note sent to the judge during the deliberations read, “We need a calculator.”

The impact of Jordan’s fame was carefully examined as the jury was being selected. One juror was struck from the pool after he called Jordan his idol.

Read about the case and jury selection here.

During closing arguments, Frederick Sperling, Jordan’s lawyer, noted Jordan’s tremendous impact on Chicago. “He gave us six championships,” Sperling remarked.



Steven Mandell, the attorney for Dominick’s, also acknowledged Jordan’s contributions and wins. However, he argued that Jordan’s attorneys were asking for too much money, and that a verdict of $126,900 was the maximum amount that should have been rewarded.



After the verdict was read, Jordan grinned, shook Sperling’s hand, and hugged the other members of his legal team, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Not amused by Jordan’s actions, the judge scolded Jordan, telling him to return to his seat so that the proceedings could wrap up.

Read about other celebrity lawsuits here—some are fascinating, some are plain ridiculous.

During the trial, the jury perused evidence of Jordan’s wealth, which, like his 6’6 frame, is staggering. Jordan reportedly earned $480 million from 2000 to 2012—just from Nike.

Estee Portnoy was a witness in the case. She is a marketing executive that Jordan hired. She was shocked when she flipped past the ad in Sports Illustrated, which read, “Michael Jordan…You are a cut above.”

After court, Jordan was asked if he ever tried one of Dominick’s steaks. Jordan laughed, and commented that the steakhouse he owns was a few blocks away. Jordan said, “You can go get a steak over there.”

We’ll bet stores and other companies will think twice before using Jordan’s name without his permission from now on.

Source: NBC News

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune Schiff Hardin (Sperling), Mandell Menkes (Mandell)


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