Most NBA players make bank in the league, but they also get a pretty penny when it comes to endorsements, and with someone as marketable and popular as Johnson, it never rang more true. Of course, bidding wars with athletic companies are nothing new, and Johnson recently revealed why he chose Converse over Nike. It turns out it’s got everything to do with cold hard cash.
As Johnson remembers it, Nike was only able to offer him $1 for every pair of shoes sold and 100,000 shares in stock options starting at just $0.18, while Converse was willing to give him $100,000 a year. Johnson, of course, chose Converse, but the decision still haunts him to this day.
“Now, I’ve never heard of stock at 19-years-old. I had to take the money; I had to take the cash. Man, I would have been a trillionaire by now. If you think of getting that stock in 1979 and what it’s worth today? Yikes. It kills me every single time I think about that. Man, Michael Jordan would have been making me so much money,” he said during a recent interview as the crowd erupted in laughter.
This isn’t the first time Johnson has talked about the multimillion-dollar loss– he previously brought it up on the Ellen DeGeneres show in 2017.
“I didn’t know anything about stocks at that time – boy, did I make a mistake. I’m still kicking myself. I could be making money off of everyone buying Nikes right now!”
Johnson’s deal with Converse became the subject of conversation following Sunday night’s episode of HBO’s stellar new series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty which revisited the moment he signed the deal. Johnson is on record about his disdain for the show.