Does Michael Jordan Still Gamble?

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Michael Jordan is regarded as the GOAT in the basketball world. His epic career saw him win 6 NBA Championships, 5 MVP awards, and multiple other accolades with the Chicago Bulls from 1984 to 1998, before eventually coming out of retirement for the final time to play for the Wizards from 2001 to 2003. In his prime, Jordan was best known for his insane ability on the basketball court — but he was also an off-court cultural phenomenon, too. Everywhere Jordan went, cameras would follow. And it quickly became clear that he had a passion for gambling.

Michael Jordan’s History of Gambling

“I enjoy it, it’s a hobby.”

— Michael Jordan talking about gambling in a 1993 interview with Ahmad Rashad.

Michael Jordan has a well-known history as a gambler.

Although there’s no official confirmation on what year MJ started gambling, it’s believed it could have been as early as 1984, when he first joined the NBA. What’s known for sure is that Jordan quickly became a high-stakes gambler throughout the late ‘80s and ‘90s, betting on golf, football, and all kinds of other sports. He would also regularly challenge friends and teammates to take part in friendly competition bets, with many of them coming forward over the years to share their stories about this.

Back in 2017, NBA legend Charles Barkley gave some hilarious insight into Michael Jordan’s gambling habits and psychotic-like passion for competition, confirming that he once bet $300,000 on a single putt while they were playing golf together. “He’s got so much money, a couple hundred thousand dollars ain’t a lot to him.” is what Barkley had to say about it.

One of the craziest stories, though, came from Jay Williams. According to Williams, Jordan would regularly challenge teammates to games of ‘Rock Paper Scissors’, which saw him once bet $100,000 on a single game. MJ was obsessed with winning, so much so that he was willing to play little games like this in between practice and even (as stated by Scottie Pippen) go as far to trick teammates into placing bets on cartoon Jumbotron races in which he already knew the outcome.

It didn’t take long for Jordan to gain a reputation as a “debt collector”. If you ever accepted a bet against Jordan and lost, he’d make sure you paid up — no excuses. One of the most notorious examples of this comes from There is No Next, a 2014 book containing lots of unknown stories about the NBA icon. One story in the book sees Johnny Bach, former Bulls assistant, claim that Jack Haley once got into a game of cards with MJ during a long flight to a game. Haley lost the game and owed Jordan $17,000 as a result. However, when the flight landed, Hayley told him he couldn’t afford to pay him the money. This infuriated Jordan, who then forced Haley to call his famous father (Jack Haley Sr.) to pay it for him.

Outside of placing bets with his teammates, Jordan also regularly visited casinos in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Once, he went down to Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino the night before a big game, which caused a media storm. In the casino, Jordan took a seat at the high-roller blackjack table, lost $500,000, kept playing until the early hours of the morning, and somehow managed to win $1.3 million back. Again, this highlights MJ’s legendary competitive streak: he hated losing and would do anything to win.

When asked about his gambling habits in 1993 in an interview with Ahmad Rashad, Jordan said “If I had a problem, I’d be starving. I’d be hawking this watch, my championship rings, I would sell my house.” Jordan was serious about this, making it clear that he liked to do gambling for fun and nothing else.

Because Michael Jordan was the most popular NBA player during his playing career, the media focused strongly on his gambling hobby. This eventually led to a global conspiracy in 1993, which many people still believe to be true to this day. The conspiracy is that Jordan’s “retirement” in 1993 was a secret suspension for gambling, with rumors circulating that David Stern initiated the suspension (although no concrete evidence has ever emerged to support this). Whatever truly happened, MJ eventually returned to basketball in 1995 and went on to win another 3 NBA championships.

Does Michael Jordan Still Gamble?

According to, sports betting is now legal in more places across the US than it has been for the last decade. With online wagering available in more states, it would make sense that Michael Jordan enjoys gambling online, although this hasn’t been confirmed. It’s also believed that MJ regularly plays golf at his private course and (presumably) still likes challenging friends and ex-teammates to friendly bets. Interestingly, MJ is now also the owner of 23XI Racing, a NASCAR Cup Series team. Because he’s an owner, Jordan is prohibited from placing bets on any NASCAR-related events, although he’s still allowed to bet on other sports if he wants to.

Is Michael Jordan a Billionaire?

Michael Jordan officially became a millionaire back in 2014. At that time, Jordan held a majority stake in NBA team Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets experienced a significant rise in value, which saw MJ reach billionaire status. Today, MJ is now worth 3.2 billion, making him the highest paid and most successful athlete of all time. And because Jordan has accumulated so much money throughout his life, it largely supports the theory that he gambles for the element of competition — not to win money.