Selling His Image

Selling His Image

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has sold 80% of the marketing rights to his name and likeness to New York-based entertainment company CKX Inc. for $50 million. CKX currently controls 85% of the marketing rights to the late Elvis Presley, the rights to hit TV show American Idol and British soccer star David Beckham.

Ali, 64, retains 20% in the business, which will be housed under a company called G.O.A.T. (The Greatest of All Time). He has the option to sell the remaining percentage at fair market value to CKX after five years . According to CKX, Ali’s name currently generates $7 million annually.

While the marketing plan has not been finalized, according to Robert F.X. Sillerman, CEO of CKX, the company is formulating a global strategy. “Muhammad is loved around the globe because he never compromised; he had absolute courage and the courage of his convictions. He is not a made-up media story. Muhammad is the real thing, truly the greatest of all time,” says Sillerman. “Our goal is over the next many years is to make sure Muhammad’s life is appropriately honored, his beliefs understood, and his position in history protected. All the rest will take care of itself if we do that.”

Although Ali and his wife, Lonnie, “agreed in advance to certain obvious limitations, limitations that arise from Muhammad’s beliefs,” says Sillerman, “other than that, final say [about products and marketing] rests with CKX.”