Ex-Nike Executive Who Signed Jordan Thinks Caitlin Clark Deserves More

Former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro, whose signing of Michael Jordan propelled the company to become the most popular sports apparel brand worldwide, told TMZ Sports that he believes Indiana Fever No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark deserves a similar deal to the one Jordan signed in 1984.

Vaccaro, who was played by Matt Damon in the biographical sports drama film ‘Air’ chronicling his pursuit and signing of Jordan, said Clark, 22, who recently signed an eight-year, $28 million Nike endorsement deal, should not only be paid more money, but also receive a percentage on every signature item sold, an incentive included in the eventual billionaire six-time NBA champion’s deal 40 years prior.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 17: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a photo during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

“She should have gotten a piece of everything,” Vaccaro told TMZ Sports.

Vaccaro acknowledged that Clark’s representatives and other shoe companies were to blame for Nike being able to offer what he said appeared to be a company-friendly contract. The NCAA basketball’s all-time leading scorer also reportedly received a four-year, $16 million offer from Under Armour and a four-year, $6 million offer from Adidas, while Puma showed interest but backed out of negotiations when notified that bidding would start at $3 million, prior to reaching an agreement with Nike, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“I’m saying to you,” Vaccaro said, “they messed up. They should have held on to the last drop.”

Vaccaro’s comments came days after Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy claimed Clark was getting screwed” by her Nike deal.

“If people want to complain about Caitlin Clark getting screwed complain about this. 8 year 28 million deal is STEALING. 8 years 80 million min is her worth and that’s still prob too cheap. I hope she has an early opt out if they don’t pay up when she blows through this deal,” Portnoy wrote in response to ESPN’s report on his X account Tuesday (April 23).

The former Iowa standout recently had her previous deal with Nike, which was agreed upon in 2022, expire following the conclusion of her decorated college basketball career at Iowa, allowing her to hit the market at the height of her popularity.

Clark’s emergence as the face of women’s college basketball has led to a significant increase in popularity for the sport, which included her final collegiate game, a loss to South Carolina in the March Madness Final, being the most viewed women’s sporting event in history, peaking at 24 million viewers and averaging 18.7 million, which was a larger than the men’s final for the first time in history.

Clark recorded 30 points, including 18 in the first period, eight rebounds and five assists and averaged 31.6 points, 8.9 assists and 7.4 rebounds during her final season at Iowa. Clark was selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft earlier this month and is scheduled to make her preseason WNBA debut against the Dallas Wings on May 3.

The Fever will have 36 nationally televised games during the 2024 WNBA season.

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