Michael Avenatti searched 'Nike put options' and 'insider trading' before allegedly trying to extort the sportswear giant

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty ImagesMichael Avenatti speaks to media as he exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York on May 30, 2018
  • Lawyer Michael Avenatti searched for “Nike put options” and items related to “insider trading” online before his alleged extortion of the company for up to $US25 million, according to a court filing dated January 24.
  • Avenatti represents Gary Franklin, who accused Nike of hiding illegal payments to college basketball recruits.
  • The attorney also visited the Nasdaq’s website for Nike stock to find prices for options contracts, Fox Business first reported.
  • Avenatti didn’t trade Nike stock and isn’t charged with insider trading.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Famous attorney Michael Avenatti may have been looking to profit from trading Nike stock options before his alleged extortion of the company for up to $US25 million, a court filing dated January 24 revealed.

Avenatti represents Gary Franklin, who accused Nike of hiding illegal payments to basketball recruits. The lawyer searched “nike put options” and items related to “insider trading” on March 10 and after taking Franklin’s case. Avenatti also visited the Nasdaq’s website to monitor Nike’s stock price and find pricing for options tied to the sneaker giant’s stock.

The internet searches took place less than two weeks before Avenatti was arrested and charged with federal extortion and bank and wire fraud. Federal prosecutors allege Avenatti threatened to publicise accusations that Nike illegally paid families of college recruits unless the company paid him and another lawyer between $US15 million and $US25 million to conduct an internal investigation.

The attorney isn’t charged with insider trading and did not trade Nike stock.

Fox Business first reported on the latest court filing and the web searches.

Avenatti attorney Scott Srebnick motioned to exclude the searches from evidence in the case against Avenatti, calling them “irrelevant” to the case.

“The obvious implication is that Mr. Avenatti illegally traded in Nike stock based upon information obtained by Coach Franklin,” Srebnick wrote. “That did not happen, the government has no evidence that it did, and Mr. Avenatti is not charged with insider trading.”

Put options allow an investor to profit when a stock price falls. The contracts give a holder the right to sell an asset at a certain price by a specific date. It’s unknown what price or expiration date Avenatti was searching.

The trial, United States v. Avenatti, begins Monday with jury selection. Avenatti has pleaded not guilty, and could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Nike traded at $US99.42 per share as of 10:05 a.m. ET Monday, down 1.7% year-to-date.


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