Even if it’s true that cultural immortality does not exist, it’s hard to argue that if any one sports figure has earned the title, Michael Jordan tops the list — now through ink and paper.
A large part of the fame and mystique that still surrounds Jordan stems from the legendary performances he put on in the NBA 20 and 30 years ago and the inspiration these performances still provide for today’s culture. For a client of tattoo artist Steve Butcher, Jordan’s jam from the free throw line in the 1988 NBA dunk contest was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments worth remembering.
Butcher has made his name online for such detailed tattoos, having completed work of similar quality depicting a sweaty James Harden, Kobe Bryant rising over Ray Allen for the dagger, and a crying Jordan (no, not that Crying Jordan). One of his latest creations involved a black-and-white shot of Jordan soaring through the air, ball cocked back, ready to throw down one of the most iconic dunks in NBA history.
But Jordan has been up to a little bit more than simply being used as inspiration for a tattoo visionary. In a recent article from Forbes, the finance-focused publication reported something that most people already knew: Michael Jordan is very, very wealthy.
Jordan made $110 million in 2015, and, as Forbes reports, is on track to rake in $30 million more than any other athlete in America in 2016. The publication indicated that the strength of the Jordan brand has been continually growing thanks in large part to the lifetime deal Jordan has with Nike.
Even though he is 13 years removed from taking the hardwood as a professional, his shoe sales continue to dominate the market. Much was made of the recent ESPN article that details Nike’s loss of Steph Curry as a client to Under Armor — Jordan’s shoes outsold Curry’s 18:1 last year. According to Forbes, his Jordan brand Nike collection grew 14 percent in the past fiscal year, making $3 billion in revenue and owning 64% of the basketball shoe market. Jordan made more than $100 million off of shoes alone last year — $6 million more than the $94 million in career salary he earned while playing in the NBA. It estimated that Nike is aiming to double the $100-million figure by 2020.
Aside from his lucrative shoe deal, his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets and partnerships with Gatorade and 2K Sports have helped the global icon maintain his status as an important and visible figure in the sports world — the Hornets, behind point guard Kemba Walker and Coach Steve Clifford have put together a 16-5 record since the All-Star Break and seem poised to make the NBA playoffs.
Jordan is reportedly worth $1.1 billion, a figure that seems likely to climb if Nike’s plans work out. And as the Jordan brand continues to grow, so will the demand for realistic tattoos from the Jumpman’s heyday.