Attorney Replies to Allegations Zion Williamson Accepted $400K for Marketing Rights at Duke

The Pelicans' Zion Williamson has been hit with an allegation that he was paid $400,000 for exclusive marketing rights while he was at Duke University in 2018.

Zion Williamson

Image via Getty/Jonathan Bachman

Zion Williamson

New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson has been hit with an allegation he was paid $400,000 for exclusive marketing rights while he was at Duke University in October 2018.

As Daniel Wallach of the Athletic reported on Thursday, Williamson filed a lawsuit against Prime Sports Marketing and Gina Ford in North Carolina. The defendents in the case have supplied what they claim is "newly discovered evidence" to show the October 2018 payment to Williamson and his stepfather actually took place. Witness Donald Kreiss signed a 38-page affidavit alongside a copy of an alleged marketing agreement between Williamson and Canada's Maxiumum Management Group.

As a result of this, Gina Ford's lawyers have indicated they are seeking a summary judgment based on the alleged new evidence. 

BREAKING: Zion Williamson’s former marketing agent files “newly-discovered evidence” in North Carolina federal lawsuit. New affidavit claims Wiliamson and his stepfather were paid $400K in Oct. 2018 in exchange for granting exclusive marketing rights to another agent.

— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) July 9, 2020

NEW: Gina Ford’s lawyers say they will be moving for summary judgment based on this newly-discovered evidence. Recall though that in their recent opposition to Zion Williamson’s motion for judgment, they claimed a need for discovery. Now they too seek judgment without discovery.

— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) July 9, 2020

Williamson's attorney Jeffrey S. Klein has responded to the supposed new evidence in a statement. "The alleged 'agreements' and driver's license attached to these papers are fradulent," Klein said, "and neither Mr. Williamson nor his family know these individuals nor had any dealings with them. We had previously alerted Ms. Ford's lawyers to both this fact and that we had previously reported the documents to law enforcement as rogeries, but they chose to go ahead with another frivolous filing anyway."

"This is a desperate and irresponsible attempt to smear Mr. Williamson at the very time he has the opportunity to live his dream of playing professional basketball," Klein continued. 

Statement from Zion Williamson’s attorney (Jeffrey S. Klein of @WeilGotshal) on the latest “newly-discovered evidence” submitted by Gina Ford’s attorneys:

— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) July 9, 2020

One fan who claims to collect Zion Williamson autographs said the signature in the alleged evidence is in "no way" the same as the real deal.

Here’s one take on the authenticity of said signature.

— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) July 9, 2020

Williamson's lawsuit against Prime Sports Marketing and Gina Ford is an attempt to nullify the agreement under a law in the state of North Carolina that protects student-athletes from non-certified agents, Bleacher Report noted.

Zion signed with Prime shortly after he was selected as the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Pelicans during the 2019 NBA draft, but he switched to Creative Artists Agency shortly after. The company filed a lawsuit against him in the state of Florida seeking compensation for any of his endorsement opportunities it helped line up before he switched to CAA. Ford has argued that Williamson accepted "benefits" while at Duke, and if proven it could result in him being ruled ineligible retroactively, making his case all the more difficult to win.

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