Michael Jordan Definitely Made The Right Business Decision In Turning Down Seven Figures A Year To Endorse 'Beanee Weenees' Early In His Career
SI- In the ’90s, Michael Jordan was known as much as a pitchman as he was as a basketball player. He hawked products for Gatorade, McDonald’s and, of course, Nike, among many others. But there was one lucrative deal that Jordan had to pass on, because he refused to say the product’s name.
In a 1992 interview with Playboy that was later republished on Longform and dug up this week by Business Insider, Jordan says he was approached early in his career to endorse Beanee Weenees, a canned combo of baked beans and hot dogs. The deal would have been worth nearly $1 million annually, but Mike just couldn’t do it.
“Two or three years ago Quaker Oats came to me to endorse Van Kamp’s pork and beans—Beanee Weenees, I think it was called. You ever heard of Beanee Weenees pork and beans? It was close to a million bucks a year. I’m saying, Beanee Weenees? How can I stand in front of a camera and say I’ll eat Beanee Weenees? If I wanted to be a hardnosed businessman, I could have been in a lot of deals, like the one with Johnson Products. I had a deal with them for their hair-care products. I had two or three more years on that deal when I started losing my hair. So I forfeited the deal. But if I had wanted to be greedy, I could’ve said, Screw you, you didn’t know my hair was falling out so you owe me money. But I didn’t.”
Think about how much mileage the internet got out of a visual of arguable the greatest competitor and most cold-blooded champion in the history of professional sports shedding a tear of vulnerability during a celebration of his legendary career that might very well go unmatched in terms of dominance for all of eternity.
Now, think of what might have happened if that same ruthless entity of anonymous aliases got their hands on a clip of that same player grinning shamelessly through gritted teeth while endorsing a product that makes 'Oscar Meyer' sound and seem as civilized as 'Ruth Chris' during the early stages of that same historic career.
I don't want to say that Michael Jordan had any sort of foresight in simply refusing to trade in his pride for a paycheck, and it's definitely easier to do exactly that when you are insanely confident in how amazing an athlete you are on pace to be, but - boy, oh boy - did a little autonomy in his endorsements end up going a long way in embarrassment avoidance.
The eventual GOAT as a brand ambassador for 'Beanee Weenees' and the type of food you might damn well feed to a farm animal? A universe in which 'Jumpman' was once the dump man for childishly named franks and beans? What a weird world (wide web) that would be. You think canned goods have a prolonged shelf life? Imagine a GIF of the most iconic basketball player turned brand of all time hawking chopped up hot dogs in those cans.