NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. is suing Nike, claiming the sports apparel giant deliberately suppressed sales of his sneakers which would have triggered bonuses and contract extensions worth $20 million. The lawsuit was filed Monday in Oregon, where Nike was originally founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964.
Odell Beckham Jr. statement
The news arrives five years after Odell signed his initial contract with Nike. OBJ is a free agent who is currently recovering from a torn ACL suffered during Super Bowl LVI. OBJ released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
“Being a Nike Athlete and Brand Icon was a dream I’ve had since being a young boy. I wanted to be the next Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant in the Nike Family. When Nike exercised its right of first refusal to match the Adidas offer and not only kept me as a Nike Athlete, but also made me one of their Brand Icons—my dream had been fulfilled. Unfortunately, Nike did not honor its commitments. Throughout our partnership, I have kept my promise and fulfilled my obligations to the brand. I am extremely disappointed that I’ve had to take these measures to ensure Nike fulfills their obligations and promises.”
Beckham continued, “Today, I’m taking a stand not just for me, but to set a precedent for all athletes who have dedicated their life to the sport they love—especially those who don’t have the means to stand up for themselves. We are held responsible for fulfilling our obligations under our contracts, but we also have to hold powerful companies like Nike accountable for honoring their commitments too. I look forward to resolving this issue and hope we can start a real conversation about protecting athletes and their rights. This happens too often in the sports industry and it’s time for change. As this is now a legal matter, please refer any questions to my attorney, Daniel Davillier.”
Source: OBJ for TMZ
Odell claims that he wanted to switch to Adidas after his original deal with Nike expired in 2017. Back then, the company exercised its right to match the multi-million-dollar offer from its rival. Since then, Beckham says, Nike withheld millions in compensation and royalties.
Beckham claims that when Nike met the exact terms in Adidas’ offer, the company also agreed to make him a “Brand Icon,” allegedly the first player in the NFL to receive such a title. According to the lawsuit, Nike didn’t exactly match the language in the Adidas deal. This apparently led to problems between the two down the road.
Their relationship took a turn for the worse when Nike allegedly kept just over $2 million of the nearly $2.6 million he was owed in March 2022. Beckham alleges he contacted Nike about the discrepancy in pay, but also questioned the status of his guaranteed extension. Beckham was allegedly told by Nike that he failed to meet the required benchmark by almost $70 million. He attributes the dispute over the threshold to “incorrect language” in their deal.
Odell alleges Nike “stopped actively manufacturing and/or selling royalty generating products after 2020.” He believes this was done in an effort to ensure that he doesn’t meet the aforementioned benchmarks. As for the nearly $2 million in withheld compensation, Nike allegedly reduced his pay for an alleged footwear violation during one game last season, and an alleged glove violation for two games during the 2021 campaign. All told, Odell Beckham Jr. alleges he suffered over $20 million in damages.
In other news, Nike has released official images of the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Chicago / Lost & Found.