Celebrities who were superstars in life are often bigger moneymakers in death, their estates raking in huge revenues from posthumous sales of their music, memorabilia, or commercial use of their image. One need look no further than the lucrative afterlife of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.
Professional sports icons are no different. Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali has been gone for over a year now, but his name and image are still worth big bucks to advertisers. Now the company he formed during his lifetime to manage the commercial use of his persona is suing Fox Broadcasting Co. for $30 million for unauthorized use of the late champion’s identity in a pre-Super Bowl promotional ad in February 2017.
Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC (MAE) filed the complaint Oct. 10 in federal district court in Illinois, charging that Fox used Ali’s name and likeness as the centerpiece of its three-minute promotional spot. The ad depicts Ali along with living NFL legends including Joe Montana and Joe Namath and makes repeated reference to Ali’s “The Greatest” title.
According to the complaint, the video begins with a narrator saying, “Walk with me as I confront greatness” while the viewer sees the back of a boxer representing Ali and wearing a robe that says “The Greatest. The Lip.” The viewer sees actual film footage of Ali and hears Ali shouting, “I am the Greatest!” The narrator again says, “Walk with me. I can show you what it means to be the greatest.” Continue reading