College Sports

Attorney who tweeted about potential Nike basketball scandal charged with extortion

Michael Avenatti charged in extortion scheme against Nike

Michael Avenatti was arrested and charged for trying to extort money against Nike, claiming he had damaging information about corruption within the brand.
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Michael Avenatti was arrested and charged for trying to extort money against Nike, claiming he had damaging information about corruption within the brand.

Grab the popcorn, this could be quite a story.

On Monday morning, attorney Michael Avenatti, who has represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Trump, tweeted that he has information about Nike that will rock the college basketball landscape.

Then we learned Avenatti will face federal extortion charges.

First, Avenatti wrote: “Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”

Before sports fans could digest that, another bit of news came.

Less than an hour later, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York tweeted: “Press conference today at 2:30 @SDNYNews to announce charges against Michael Avenatti for attempting to extract more than $20M in payments from Nike by threatening to garner publicity to inflict financial & reputational harm if his demands were not met”

According to the complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, Avenatti claimed to have as a client an AAU coach whose deal with Nike was not renewed. The client allegedly had “evidence that one or more Nike employees had authorized and funded payments to the families of top high school players and/or their families and attempted conceal these payments,” similar to a case involving Adidas in which three men received prison sentences.

The complaint says Avenatti threatened to call a news conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call at the start the NCAA Tournament to reveal the information. Avanetti allegedly said he would not hold the news conference if Nike paid $1.5 million to his client and had the client and Avanetti conduct an internal investigation which Nike did not request.

Avanetti allegedly identified three former high school players who received payments and “his client was aware of payments to others as well.”

Nike’s stock dropped immediately after Avenatti’s tweet:

Earlier this month, three men received prison sentences in a college basketball recruiting scandal involving Adidas that involved two dozen schools, including Kansas. Another trial is scheduled for April.

From covering the World Series to the World Cup, Pete has done a little bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997. He writes about baseball and has a quirky blog that augments The Star’s coverage of area teams.


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