“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though multiple competitor brands had offered the rookie sensation more than $10 million annually in their negotiations, according to industry sources.
Williamson announced the signing on Instagram on Tuesday.
Jordan Brand called a special all-employees meeting Tuesday morning, just after Williamson’s post on Instagram, to announce the signing internally. The brand has short-term plans to launch digital billboards featuring Williamson that are slated to go live in key markets later in the day.
“Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring,” Jordan said. “He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do.”
Williamson and his family were hosted at Nike’s sprawling Beaverton, Oregon, campus before the NBA draft on June 10, where they received an extensive tour of the company’s headquarters and saw future product mock-ups and apparel designs.
With more than 67% of NBA players currently wearing Nike basketball sneakers, the company has been looking to inject more energy and youthfulness into its Jordan Brand subsidiary roster of athletes — around 7% of the league.
“Over the last 34 years we’ve built an incredible roster of talent with the same determination and greatness as MJ,” said Howard White, Jordan vice president of brand affairs. “There is something special about Zion that reminds me of MJ when he was younger.”