Jurors at a civil trial focused on the market value of Michael Jordan's identity handed him a major win, ordering a grocery-store chain to pay him $8.9 million for invoking his name in a steak ad without his permission. The amount was close to the $10 million his attorneys said the one-time use of his name was worth and Jordan hugged his lawyers after the decision was read Friday night in federal court in Chicago, where Jordan won six NBA titles with the Bulls. "I'm so used to playing on a different court," a visibly delighted Jordan said outside the courthouse. "This shows I will protect my name to the fullest. ... It's my name and I worked hard for it ... and I'm not just going to let someone take it." Jordan added the case "was never about money" and that he'll give the award to charities in Chicago.
Two jurors asked Jordan for a photo and he obliged by throwing his arms around them and smiling. A judge ruled before trial that the now-defunct Dominick's Finer Foods was liable. So the sole unresolved issue was damages for the unauthorized ad in a 2009 Sports Illustrated. It congratulated Jordan on his Hall of Fame induction and included a $2-off coupon. Jurors deliberated for six hours before returning with the $8.9 million figure, at one point sending a note to the judge that said, "We need a calculator." Jordan's fame loomed over the case, with one would-be juror struck from the jury pool after describing Jordan as his idol. The Dominick's attorney told jurors Jordan's attorneys overvalued his name, saying jurors should award Jordan no more than $126,900. Asked whether he ever tried one of Dominick's steaks, Jordan laughed and noted his own namesake steakhouse was a few blocks away. "You can go get a steak over there," he said.