A federal jury has ordered the owners of shuttered grocery chain Dominick's to pay Michael Jordan $8.9 million for using his name in a 2009 Sports Illustrated advertisement without his permission, reports the Chicago Tribune. Following the weeklong trial, jurors deliberated for more than six hours before coming to a final decision.
A judge previously ruled that Safeway, the owner of Dominick's, was liable in the case of the $2-off Rancher's Reserve steak coupon congratulating MJ on his Hall of Fame Induction and describing him as "a cut above." Jordan testified in court that he would "never" have agreed to the coupon advertisement, which likened him to a piece of meat. Attorneys for the former basketball player-turned-mogul sought $10 million in damages. They argued that companies want to associate themselves with his name and likeness because "he is, a man of unquestioned integrity." In contrast, lawyers for Safeway stated that, at most, the grocery chain should pay $126,900.
BREAKING: Jury says Safeway, Dominick's owner, has to pay Michael Jordan $8.9 MILLION for this ad in SI in 2009 pic.twitter.com/DD6O7Rt3D9— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 22, 2015
Jordan says the lawsuit "was never about the money." Adding, "It is my name, and I've worked hard for it for 30-something years, and I'm not just going to let someone take it." Jordan says he plans to donate the money to Chicago charities. When asked whether he'd ever eaten a Rancher's Reserve steak, he quipped: "No, I got a Michael Jordan Steakhouse over here!"
Of course, that didn't stop the baller from trading his special booth on Sunday night for a window seat at celebrity hotspot Chicago Cut Steakhouse. Perhaps he had a feeling the jury would rule in his favor. MJ reportedly dropped nearly four figures on the meaty meal.