Michael Jordan says he’s been a fan for a long time, details his path to NASCAR team ownership; The joke became reality, in just 10 days
Several weeks ago, rumors circulated that Michael Jordan was interested in becoming a NASCAR team owner. Those rumors were quickly shot down as false from the PR representative of the Jordan Brand.
“Looks like we’re owners together, ha, ha,” Hamlin told Jordan. “Congratulations.”
Jordan responded, “Fake news, but if you want to make it real news, let me know.”
Hamlin was surprised by the response of his long-time sponsor. But, together, they went into action.
Fast forward, Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin have now joined forces to form a new NASCAR team. Bubba Wallace will be their driver. And it all started from the rumors and the joke that followed.
Michael Jordan is a six-time NBA champion. According to Forbes, the Jordan Brand generates $1 billion in revenue for Nike. He also owns a collection of car dealerships.
Regarding sports, Jordan is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team. In 2017, he became a minority owner Miami Marlins. Now, you can add NASCAR to the list.
Michael Jordan on his new NASCAR team
“It was one of those things, again, it’s always been on my mind,” Jordan told NBC Sports on Wednesday when speaking of owning a NASCAR team.
“I go with my gut feeling. When the time is right you know it. When this was presented to me, I felt good about it. He added, When Bubba was involved in the whole conversation I felt good about it.”
“My biggest conversation to Denny was, ‘Look, I don’t want to get in there just to go around the races and just go around and around and around and finish up 18th, 19th, 20th, 30th. I want to win. I want to be put in a position for the best chance for us to win. That’s my competitive nature. That’s always been who I am.
“When we got into this dialogue and I saw that OK, I might have a chance if we can put together the right situation to possibly win. That became more intriguing. That was my mindset going into this.”
Last year, Michael Jordan was at the NASCAR finale in Homestead-Miami. In an interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr, he was asked about becoming a team owner. He shot down the idea, insisting he wanted to be a fan.
“I remember the conversation with Dale Earnhardt. In essence, I love the sport. I was looking for an entry opportunity. This was the opportunity that was just presented to me in just the last 10 days.”
Jordan’s father used to take him to NASCAR races
Long before becoming the first Billionaire NBA player, Jordan’s interest in NASCAR has been there since he was a child.
“He was a big car person,” Jordan said of his father. “He used to work on engines for years, became a big stock-car fan and he bredded us to do the same.”
“Went to Darlington, Rockingham, Charlotte, Talladega. Hoss Ellington used to be from Wilmington and he used to work on cars with Hoss Ellington way back in the day. I’ve been involved in car racing for a long period of time as a fan.”
NASCAR’s social change interested Michael Jordan
In recent months, NASCAR has been aggressive with a series of social changes.
Ahead of the race in Atlanta, the cars were stopped on the track and the engines were shut off, just ahead of the green flag. Steve Phelps, the president of the sport then delivered a message to all drivers stating a need to “Do Better” in regards to racial inequality within NASCAR.
In the weeks that followed, NASCAR took additional steps. The Confederate Flag has long been seen at every NASCAR track on the circuit. That flag is now banned from all events and properties.
“It’s huge,” Jordan said of giving African Americans an outlet to NASCAR.
“It’s absolutely huge. To me, you’re basically diving into a situation where very few Black people have been present into the NASCAR arena. In essence, you’re going in with the opportunity to expand that and to give a different lens to NASCAR as a whole.”
“For so long, it’s been viewed from a negative aspect with the Confederate flag and all these other things that occurred.”
“Now you go in with NASCAR making an effort to change the perspective and try to attract and connect to the next generation without losing something for today’s authenticity of the sport presented an opportunity for me to get involved in this whole process. And know that I am spearheading a thought process of Blacks getting involved in NASCAR when in essence very few have since 1960s.”
Owning a startup NASCAR team is expensive
Jordan is aware of the costs.
“I’m not doing this to try to look at the financials,” Jordan said.
“The financials are part of the process, but my passion drives me more than the financials. If I invest or not invest, I was still going to call Denny each and every Sunday and ask him what the hell is he doing, is he going to win today, what is he going to do, what happened?”
Jordan added, “I’ve been a fan for so long, so I’m always going to be that. With making money or losing money, I’m going to be a fan to NASCAR. This is authenticity in the making for me in that I’m involved in something that I truly, truly love and I wake up each and every weekend looking forward to each and every race.”
Hamlin is looking forward to the future changes that will bring the costs down. You can assume he’s speaking on the 2022 Next-Gen car which will be a spec chassis used by all teams.
“Obviously, I’ve got a day job, racing a car and that’s what I’m going to continue to do for years and years with my FedEx team, but I know enough about this sport that I can help guide this ownership team in the right direction,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin added, “I believe NASCAR is taking steps to help the financial model for the owners. This is why it was a great time for us to come in when we did. I’m going to make sure Michael is in this sport for a very long time.”
Jordan isn’t looking to change NASCAR
“I’m a fan of the sport first,” Jordan said.
“I love sports. I love, love NASCAR. And I don’t go into with the idea and concept that I’m trying to change and shape NASCAR. I go in with my passion. I hope that whoever knows Michael Jordan or whoever supports Michael Jordan, whoever supports NASCAR see this as an opportunity to enjoy the sport.”
“If we can introduce it to the next generation, to at least gauge an interest, that’s a beginning there. How that translates economically, I have no understanding of that. Those are things that I’m not in control of. All I can do is show the passion for the sport and hopefully people can understand that passion and adapt to that.”
“The business aspect is the business aspect. … I go in because I love sports and then I get all these different other conversations, all these other people calling, saying, ‘hey, look, that’s pretty interesting, I would love to be involved.’ To me, that’s change. That’s how this is going to work. It may not work from a perspective of what people may expect.”
“I don’t know what the agendas may be or what the barometer may be, but at the end of the day, I love that I got involved in NASCAR and if people appreciate that and want to be a part of that, great. If not, it’s not going to change my involvement. I just want to continually win.”