Nike says it won’t respond to “allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion and aid in his disgraceful attempts to distract from the athletes on the court at the height of the [NCAA] tournament.”
Sports apparel giant Nike says it won’t respond to the latest allegations made on Twitter by huckster Michael Avenatti that the company made illicit payments to the families of high school athletes to lure them to certain “Nike” colleges.
This latest outburst by the carnival barker-esque lawyer would be funny were it not so sad.
Because when you’ve been formally charged with extortion, the smartest thing to do is keep publicly threatening the target of your extortion ????? pic.twitter.com/irA3WrTenE
— Audrey Grossman (@audreyingtown) April 7, 2019
This all comes after Avenatti, who has gained widespread notoriety in the past year for representing aging porn star Stormy Daniels in unfruitful lawsuits against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, was arrested and charged in New York in March for trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike by threatening to take his allegations public. At that same time, he was also separately charged in a second federal case in Los Angeles for embezzling a client’s money “in order to pay his own expenses and debts,” according to prosecutors.
Now, in the midst of the NCAA men’s Final Four basketball playoff, Avenatti is still trying to take down Nike, claiming he has evidence that more than $170,000 has been paid out by the retailer to family members of basketball players including the Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton, former University of Nevada Las Vegas player Brandon McCoy, Oregon Ducks’ Bol Bol and Duke Blue Devils’ Zion Williamson.
“Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion and aid in his disgraceful attempts to distract from the athletes on the court at the height of the tournament,” a Nike spokesperson told CNBC in a statement in response to Avenatti’s tweets. “Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case.”
I never felt more satisfied or optimistic than when I rode the river in my youth.