Selling Sneakers Made Michael Jordan the Highest Paid Athlete of All-Time

With $1.7 billion in career earnings, Michael Jordan is now the highest paid athlete of all-time.

Michael Jordan in a suit in front of a blue sky
Image via Jordan Brand
Michael Jordan in a suit in front of a blue sky

While some are claiming to have jumped over the Jumpman, business has never been better for Michael Jordan.

With a $2.8 billion sneaker juggernaut under the Nike umbrella, Jordan has officially been named the highest paid athlete of all-time by Forbes. In his 32-year career as an athlete and pitchman, Jordan has earned $1.7 billion dollars, edging out Tiger Woods' $1.65 billion and Arnold Palmers' $1.35 billion.

Perhaps most intriguing about Jordan's earnings is how "little" he made as a basketball player. According to Basketball Reference, Jordan was paid a little more than $90 million during his 14 seasons in the NBA. The bulk of that money was paid to him for the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, during which he made about $63 million combined. Otherwise, he was never paid more than $4 million for a season.

Don't expect Jordan's numbers to slow down anytime soon. Nike is pushing for Jordan Brand's revenue growth to hit $4.5 billion by 2020, with Jordan receiving royalties for every item sold.