Muhammad Ali Sells Marketing Rights

Muhammad Ali has sold the rights to market his name, for a cool $50 mil.

Photo Muhammad Ali Sonny Liston Fight Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw on May 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine. Ali, one of the world's most recognized people, has sold 80 percent of the marketing rights to his name and likeness to a firm for $50 million. The new venture will be operated by a company called G.O.A.T. LLC, an acronym for 'The Greatest of All Time.' The deal includes trademarks owned by the boxing great. (AP Photo/John Rooney) Muhammad Ali, one of the world’s most recognized people, has sold 80 percent of the marketing rights to his name and likeness to a firm for $50 million. The 64-year-old former heavyweight champion, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, will retain a 20 percent interest in the business. The new venture will be operated by a company called G.O.A.T. LLC, an acronym for “The Greatest of All Time.”

Ali and wife Lonnie are expected to work with CKX, Inc. to market his interests around the world. The deal includes trademarks owned by the boxing great. “This relationship with CKX will help guarantee that, for generations to come, people of all nations will understand my beliefs and my purpose,” Ali said in a statement issued Tuesday by the company. “I am honored to be able to partner with CKX as they continue to grow.”

CKX has concentrated primarily on entertainment and holds the rights to the IDOLS television brand, which includes the show “American Idol.” It also holds the rights to Elvis Presley’s marketing, and has an interest in the operations of Graceland, Presley’s Memphis, Tenn., home.

Elvis and Muhammad Ali are a pretty good combo, I guess. Still, this somehow seems wrong.

And how does one sell eighty percent of one’s name, anyway? Eighty percent of the profits, sure. But either Ali has a veto power over how his name is sold, in which case he effectively owns at least 51 percent of it, or not, in which case he effectively owns none of it.

As an aside, I originally posted this at Gone Hollywood and then thought to cross-post it here. That this was a sports story was my last reaction. It says something about Ali’s transcendent nature, I guess.

Update: I hope they don’t change his name to “Enron Field.” That would really suck. Although, if they changed it back to “Cassius Clay,” it’d be kind of funny.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    I’m a big fan of Ali, but deals like this always make me shudder. The whole idea of giving your name & likeness to someone else just leaves me cold…

  2. The right to control the commercial marketing of one’s name or likeness is well established in law. What’s the big deal?

    Over the years, boxing promoters and others have made many times more than Ali will be making with this deal. Ali has earned every dime.