Nike responds to Michael Avenatti's arrest: 'Nike will not be extorted'

Michael AvenattiGetty/COREY SIPKIN

  • Lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested and charged with attempting to extort $20 million from sportswear brand Nike on Monday.
  • He allegedly tried to force Nike to pay up by "threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met," according to the criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.
  • Avenatti claimed he had information related to the NCAA basketball scandal.
  • Later Monday, Nike responded by saying that it was complying with federal investigations in NCAA basketball and "will not be extorted."

Nike has issued its first public response to allegations that Michael Avenatti attempted to extort the company.

The lawyer, who reached notoriety for representing Stormy Daniels in past years, was arrested and charged with attempting to extort $20 million from sportswear brand Nike on Monday.

He tried to force Nike to pay up by "threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met," according to the criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.

Nike issued its first response to the allegations later on Monday.

"Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation," the company told Business Insider in a statement.

The information Avenatti attempted to use to extort Nike related to the NCAA basketball scandal, which broke in 2018, the complaint says. A former executive of Adidas was convicted in 2018 of bribing high school athletes and their families to attend universities associated with the brand. Nike was not implicated, but was served subpoenas in connection in 2017.

Read more: Nike's youth basketball league has reportedly been hit with subpoenas in connection with the college basketball bribery scandal

In its statement, Nike said it had nothing to hide.

"Nike has been cooperating with the government's investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year," the statement read. "When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors."

Nike also said that when it learned of Avenatti's extortion attempts and Avenatti's claims of damaging information, it referred both to federal authorities.

"When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation," the company told Business Insider.

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