In a statement posted to social media on Monday night, the free agent wide receiver called the opportunity to be a Brand Icon at Nike a “dream,” but that he was “extremely disappointed” with the shoe apparel company’s decision to not honor its “obligations and promises.”
“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,” Beckham wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “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.”
Snippets of the lawsuit shared on Twitter by Complex’s Brendan Dunne said that Beckham tried to switch brands to Adidas after his original agreement with Nike expired. Nike exercised its “contractual right to match the Adidas offer,” but now refuses “to honor the deal it agreed to,” according to the lawsuit.
“Rather than continuing to pay the compensation and guaranteed royalties it is contractually obligated to pay Mr. Beckham, Nike is willfully withholding millions of dollars and inventing excuses not to pay him,” the lawsuit reads, per Dunne.
Beckham first signed with Nike in 2014 after he was selected in the first round of that year’s draft by the Giants. The lawsuit states that the original offer paid the receiver $45,000 annually for three years, along with an agreement to pay Beckham a percentage of the net sale of any Nike products with his endorsement. The deal also granted Nike a right of first refusal, which allowed the company to match a competitor’s offer.
In 2017, with the original Nike deal set to expire, Adidas offered Beckham a deal worth up to $47 million in guaranteed extensions. Nike exercised its right of first refusal and matched the offer, but the 30-year-old alleges that the structure of the new contract made it “nearly impossible for him to trigger very valuable extensions of the deal.”
Beckham, who played for the Rams last season, said he hopes to set a precedent with the lawsuit that will help make Nike “accountable for honoring their commitments.”
“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.”
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