Billionaire Michael Jordan's Multi Million Dollar Bets & $5Million Craps Loss

1 year ago
Billionaire Michael Jordan's Multi Million Dollar Bets & $5Million Craps Loss
02 Mar

Basketball legend Michael Jordan will forever be remembered for his skills on court, but what he did with chunks of his estimated $2billion fortune come a close second – the Chicago Bulls hero a renowned gambler, be it casino games or bizarre prop bets with fellow players.

As one of the most famous sportsmen to walk (and run, and especially jump) the planet, Jordan made close to $100million from his 15 seasons in the NBA, but endorsements with the likes of Nike and Gatorade were worth 10 times that figure.

The 6-time NBA champion, and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team, has become the wealthiest sportsman in history, but what to do with such wealth?

MJ would bet on almost anything

Gamble, it seems, has been MJ’s long-standing vice of choice, and he doesn’t hold back – craps losses of $5million in a single session, $300,000 bets on a single putt and even $1000 prop bets with team-mates on whose luggage would hit the carousel on away days!

While some of us may use Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who pays the bar tab, there are few if any people in the world outside of MJ who would do it for $100,000.

And while we might have a small wager on a round of golf, again MJ took it to extremes, racking up $1.25million in losses during 10-days of tee-to-green action.

The $1million+ Golfing Hole

That incredible story, as recounted by former San Diego Sports Arena manager Richard Esquinas in his tell-all 1993 book “Michael & Me: Our Gambling Addiction…My Cry For Help”, shows up a very Jordan-esque trait: the man just hated to lose at anything.

If you’re pockets are deep enough, a $1.25million hole isn’t the end of the world, and Jordan clawed by way back to less than a $million down, although the basketball ace even then negotiated a settlement of only $300k!

Charles 'Sir Charles' Barkley once told a story of Jordan betting $300,000 against him and other extremely wealthy friends - on a single putt. Ask most people to sink a straight five-footer for several years’ worth of wages and not only hands would be shaking, entire bodies would follow suit.

For Jordan, that sum was pretty much what he earned in his rookie year, and the numbers skyrocketed almost immediately.

The $billion Brand

The Jordan brand saw him earn close to $500 million from Nike during the noughties with pocket money provided in the shape of $18 million from Gatorade, $14 million each from trading-card brand Upper Deck and clothing company Hanes, while XEL cologne ‘donated’ $10.6 million to use his name.

Spewing $5million at the Craps Table

That’s probably why a $5million craps loss in Vegas alongside Cincinnati Bengals’ cornerback Adam 'Pacman' Jones only hurt his pride, but other gambling losses came closer to causing him real hurt.

Early on in his basketball career, Jordan had to testify in the trial of a previously-convicted drug dealer. The question: why did the dealer have a cheque written out to him by MJ for $57,000 in his possession.

Jordan initially claimed it was a business loan, but in court he had to man up and confess it was for gambling losses – something he perhaps wanted kept from the NBA who were becoming interested in his rumoured off-court betting habits.

There’s Only one Michael Jordan

Millions of words have been written about Michael Jordan’s unrivalled on-court genius, but his gambling tales are perhaps just as interesting to non-sports fans.

Who else would stay up until 6am playing poker before an Olympic basketball final? Or party all night in a casino before a crucial NBA play-off match? Or drink umpteen beers during several rounds of heavily-bet golf before heading off to score 44 points on the court?

Michael Jordan did all of these things and more, and if it sounds way too degenerate, maybe ask yourself what you’d do for fun if you had $1billion in the bank.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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