CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Michael Jordan is expected to testify today in court over claims that he lost millions of dollars in endorsement revenues because of an unauthorized advertisement.
Witnesses for Jordan say even though he no longer plays, the former Bulls’ superstar is more popular than ever.
On the witness stand Monday was Jordan’s business agent, Curtis Polk, testified that he was in his dermatologist's office waiting for a checkup when he started thumbing through a commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated. Polk said he was outraged when he saw a full page Dominick's Ad with Michael Jordan’s name and jersey.
Dominick's now admits the ad was unauthorized, but says the $10 million dollars that Jordan is seeking vastly overstates the damage done.
On the stand, Polk described how he had carefully managed Jordan's image by avoiding such small-time deals.
"If you want to use Michael Jordan to help promote your company, you have to buy the whole thing," he told the jury. That meant at least a 10 year deal worth $10 million dollars, like contracts that Jordan has signed with Nike, Gatorade and Hanes.
The marketing strategy had worked, Polk said.
Polk also says the former basketball star's image has been meticulously protected so young people will know of his achievements. He added that marketing deals can have promotional value for Jordan beyond cash compensation.
Last year, Jordan's endorsements raked in over a $100 million dollars, which is more than he made during all six of his championship years with the Bulls combined.
Sports Economics Professor Andrew Zimbalist testified that when the Dominick’s ad surfaced in 2009, that Jordan, despite being out of the game for almost a decade, still had the highest popularity rating of any athlete.
Tiger Woods was a distant second, and amazingly, Jordan’s endorsement income has kept growing at about 12 percent a year.
The jurors in this case are allowed to submit written questions for the witnesses. One of them wanted to ask Jordan's business agent whether this case itself might have promotional value for Michael Jordan.
Jordan sat back in his chair and laughed when he heard that question. The judge said that it wouldn't be allowed.
Also, Jordan hasn't offered any comment about the case so far.