Michael Jordan by most measures is one of the most inspiring individuals still walking this Earth.
His highflying highlights in the ’80s and ’90s redefined just how far an athlete could ascend while his simultaneous pivot as a businessman created new paths for endorsements, branding and ownership.
Some would say Kanye West is in the same conversation for inspiration. Delighting ears in the late-90s and 2000s with his soul-sampling production and thought provoking rhymes, West has also pivoted as a businessman repaving lanes for creatives in regards to multi-discipline dominance and output.
The common thread between the two? Well, Chicago, for starters. But more so, the common denominator is sneakers.
In a recent cover story for Forbes, it’s reported that West’s YEEZY line is on the way to $1.5 billion in annual sales in 2019.
For comparison, Jordan Brand does $3 billion year in and year out.
Filling up the stat sheet in regards to bottom line, Forbes predicts West’s pretax income to be $150 million over the past year. His team says that number is even higher when considering Yeezy apparel. In either event, said numbers place him at #3 on the magazine’s Celebrity 100 list.
While ‘celebrity’ is a word West has never liked much in relation to his creative work, he’s still more than happy to be compared to and compare himself to Michael Jordan who’s an inspiration to many to include West.
To that point, West compares the success of his second Nike signature to that of the shoes Mike made fly on the court and off the shelves.
“It was the first shoe to have the same level of impact as an Air Jordan, and I wanted to do more,” West says of the Nike Air Yeezy 2.
Just the same, the success of Kanye’s second Nike shoe was enough for him to want to do more with the Swoosh but also demand more. This famously became a point of contention that led Kanye to leave Nike and essentially get a better deal with Adidas.
“At that time Nike refused to give celebrities royalties on their shoes,” says West when looking back at the Yeezy 2 in 2012.
Desperate for a deal that would allow him to not just create more but be more fairly compensated, West enlisted Scooter Braun – of Justin Bieber management fame – who reportedly linked West with an adidas deal that gives him a whopping 15% royalty on wholesales with a marketing fee on top of that.
For contrast, Michael Jordan’s industry-shifting/industry-making deal with Nike that Sonny Vaccaro helped secure back in 1984 gives MJ royalties closer to 5% off his product. While still the absolute GOAT, it’s noted in the article that Jordan doesn’t own his brand.
Conversely, West owns 100% of Yeezy.
So, in 2019 the Yeezys are yet to totally jump over the Jumpman in regards to total sales. Subjective steeze aside, West’s ownership and royalties do have him on the fast track to join Jordan in the billionaire boy’s club at a quicker clip than the athlete that changed the game.
Will YEEZY prove a three decades and running force like the Jumpman? Only time will tell.