- Michael Jordan product endorsements off the court are just as legendary as his game.
- During a 1992 interview with Playboy, Jordan revealed just how important it was to keep a genuine image when picking which products to endorse.
- At a time when Jordan was averaging about $US1 million per year as a basketball player, he turned down a seven-figure offer to endorse Beanee Weenees because he didn’t use the product and didn’t like the name.
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“Do you think Michael Jordan really still eats McDonald’s even though he is a millionaire?” is a question thousands of kids posed to each other in the 1990s.
According to Jordan, the answer is “yes,” and one story about a product he refused to endorse reveals just how important it was for MJ to maintain a genuine image as he rose to fame.
In May 1992, Jordan did a lengthy interview with Playboy that was later reproduced at Longform. Mark Vancil asked Jordan about products he turned down, and His Airness revealed that he rejected one substantial offer because he did not use the product and did not like the name.
“Two or three years ago Quaker Oats came to me to endorse Van Kamp’s pork and beans – Beanee Weenees, I think it was called,” Jordan said. “You ever heard of Beanee Weenees pork and beans? It was close to a million bucks a year. I’m saying, Beanee Weenees? How can I stand in front of a camera and say I’ll eat Beanee Weenees?”
Beanee Weenee is actually a version of pork and beans that uses chunks of hot dogs instead of bacon. It is still available today.
Two or three years before the interview, Jordan had not hit the peak of his playing career. He had one MVP award and had yet to win a championship.
Jordan wasn’t poor at the time, but he was also a long way from the billionaire he would become in retirement.
At the time he rejected Beanee Weenees, Jordan had made less than $US4 million to $US5 million total in four or five NBA seasons. Turning down a multiyear offer worth nearly $US1 million per year was likely not a light decision.
Jordan also revealed in the interview that he backed out of a deal for a hair-care product because he was starting to go bald and didn’t want to be “a hardnosed businessman” over the contract.
“If I wanted to be a hardnosed businessman, I could have been in a lot of deals, like the one with Johnson Products,” Jordan said. “I had a deal with them for their hair-care products. I had two or three more years on that deal when I started losing my hair. So I forfeited the deal. But if I had wanted to be greedy, I could’ve said, Screw you, you didn’t know my hair was falling out so you owe me money. But I didn’t.”
That decision kept kids from ever having to ask each other, “Do you think Michael Jordan still uses hair products now that he is bald?”
- Read more on Michael Jordan:
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- Here’s Michael Jordan’s 56,000-square-foot house in Chicago, and why it’s still on the market after 6 years
- Peek inside Michael Jordan’s houses, cars, and travels and see what $US1.9 billion buys
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