Zion Williamson signed with Nike and is now a Jordan Brand athlete. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie reportedly signed a deal worth $75 million with the Oregon-based shoe giant.
But he could have had more.
According to ESPN, Williamson turned down more lucrative offers from both Li-Ning and Puma. Williamson had an opportunity to sign for more than $100 million, all without playing an NBA game.
In her court filing, Ford outlined that during her time working for Williamson, Prime Sports had already “successfully secured, obtained and negotiated” a potential sneaker deal with “monetary compensation of an immediate $100 Million.” According to Ford, that meeting took place on April 28, although the exact brand is not specified in the filing. The brand is believed to be either Puma or Li-Ning, according to industry sources. However, Ford only names Puma in her court filing among the list of brands she had been actively negotiating with.
Like Puma, Li-Ning backed up that eagerness with a serious financial commitment: up to $19 million per year, according to industry sources.
Instead, a select team of Anta executives and product leaders ventured to Los Angeles, meeting with Zion and his family over a span of a couple of hours in advance of the draft, while walking them through product plans ahead. They’d eventually make a starting offer of $15 million per year.
That’s a lot of money left on the table.
But Nike also allows for a generational impact in the U.S. and abroad that surpasses what Williamson could get from any other company… if he succeeds.
Williamson is in line to get a signature shoe of his own if he performs at a high level. That’s a rarity in the Jordan Brand world, and one that was apparently too much for him to pass up.