#23 Gives Millions in Unexpected Grants to 23 Chicago Nonprofits after Settlement

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December 16, 2015; The Root

Twenty-three Chicago nonprofits answered the phone this week to learn they were a lucky recipient of basketball legend Michael Jordan’s winning lawsuit. Jordan wore jersey number 23 during most of his career with the Chicago Bulls.

Jordan’s court case began in 2009 when the now-defunct regional supermarket chain Dominick’s used Jordan’s name in an unauthorized advertisement. According to the Chicago Tribune, the jury verdict was $8.9 million. The final amount is likely to be different because there was an undisclosed final settlement in the case.

“The 23 charities I’ve chosen support the health, education and well-being of the kids of Chicago,” said Jordan. Jordan’s staff had a dream week making the phone calls to the selected nonprofits, which included a range of organizations such as Children’s Literacy Initiative, Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, Make-A-Wish Illinois, SOS Children’s Village, and New Moms.

Jordan had promised from the outset that the case was not about the money, that is was brought to protect his name and his brand. He took the stand during the trial to discuss details of how he “rations” the use of his name and identity to maximize his earnings. A decade after retiring from the NBA, Jordan enjoys higher earnings that any other player retired for that amount of time.

The nonprofits were instructed not to disclose the size of the donation.

Not all professional athletes have made wonderful decisions with their philanthropy. But all the coverage of this recent story has brought great value to Jordan’s brand. The only cynical comment related the number of charities (23) to Jordan’s number, but even that writer good-heartedly credited MJ for following up on his promise. — Jeanne Allen and Ruth McCambridge