Michael Jordan Joins Billionaire Club with Help from Donald Sterling

Michael Jordan AP

Michael Jordan joins the billionaire club in 2015 thanks to an unintended assist from the much maligned former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

The legendary NBA star derives much of his income from sales of his coveted basketball sneakers. In 2013 the Air-Jordan brand raked in a cool $2.5 billion, enabling Nike to cut Michael in on a tidy $90 million of that.

But it was the meteoric leap in the value of the Charlotte Hornets, which increased MJ’s share of the team to $500 million, that elevated Jordan into the elite billionaire category. With an approximate net worth of $1 billion, Jordan ranks as the 1,741st richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

Significantly, back in August, billionaire businessman Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion after the NBA relieved former owner Donald Sterling for uttering racist remarks about blacks, including Magic Johnson. The Clippers eye-popping sales price helped raise the value of most NBA franchises, including the Hornets.

Forbes reported that a record 290 newcomers joined the billionaires list in 2015, easily overcoming the previous record of 268 set in 2014. Aside from Jordan, two other sports entrepreneurs crossed the billion dollar line of demarcation of enjoying more money than one could ever use. Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf  joined the list with a fortune of $1.3 billion, and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander increased his net worth to $1.6 billion.

The average fortune for a 2015 first-time billionaire is $1.8 billion. Cumulatively, all newcomers are worth $518 billion, which sets another record.