Jordan is miles ahead, scoring an eye-watering $130 million-worth in sneaker deals. Considering the former Chicago Bulls shooting guard was the first NBA star to pen a playing contract worth over $20 million, and also reportedly holds the record for highest earnings — $33,140,000 — for a one-year contract, that’s quite the slam dunk for his bank balance.
But MJ isn’t alone in netting huge sums, LeBron brings in a whopping $32 million in sneaker deals. According to Forbes, King James tops 2019’s rich list of active NBA players, bagging $92 million salary and endorsements.
With sneaker deals worth so much, it’s no wonder the market is mirrored by an extremely lucrative counterfeit one. At last valuation in 2016, the real NBA sneaker market was rated at $55 billion, with current estimates around $75 billion. The total counterfeit market is believed to be worth $1 billion — a drop in the ocean by comparison.
However, imitations can cut into brands’ slice of the pie significantly and result in potential brand dilution. One notable example is an Air Jordan counterfeit ring, shut down in 2018, which was said to be worth $73 million dollars.
It’s not hard to see the imitation appeal, as they cost around $2 to $7 to manufacture. This results in some Nike counterfeits selling for $50, despite a real market value of $200 to $315.