Richest BusinessExecutives
Net Worth:
$5 Million
Sep 23, 1939 (84 years old)
United States of America
💰 Compare Sonny Vaccaro's Net Worth

What is Sonny Vaccaro's Net Worth?

Sonny Vaccaro is an American businessman and former sports marketing executive who has a net worth of $5 million. Sonny Vaccaro is best known for his tenure with Nike in which he signed Michael Jordan to his first shoe deal. After working at Nike Vaccaro moved on to work for Adidas and then Reebok. Vaccaro was also responsible for getting Kobe Bryant to sign with Adidas.

Early Life

John Paul Vincent "Sonny" Vaccaro was born on September 23, 1939, in Trafford, Pennsylvania. Sonny started his career as a school teacher before becoming a high school all-star game organizer throughout the 1970s. Vaccaro was responsible for co-founding the first ever national high school All-Star Game in 1965.


Sonny Vaccaro's vast array of college hoops connections helped him land his gig at Nike. At the time, Nike was a running-shoe company trying to get into the world of basketball. Vaccaro pioneered the idea of paying college coaches bigger salaries and giving them free sneakers in exchange for their players wearing the sneakers during games. He went after coaching heavyweights such as John Thompson, Jerry Tarkanian, Lefty Driesell, and Jim Valvano, and all of a sudden a team expense was eliminated from the budget and new personal revenue streams were created. With March Madness becoming a TV sensation and Vaccaro making his signature move of getting Michael Jordan to partner with Nike in 1984, the basketball sneaker business blew up and took the industry by storm.

After working at Nike, Vaccaro moved on to work for Adidas and then Reebok. Vaccaro was also responsible for getting Kobe Bryant to sign with Adidas. He founded the ABCD All America Camp which showcased high school basketball players from 1984 to 2007. The camp featured players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Sebastian Telfair, and Dwight Howard. The Dapper Dan Roundball Classic has featured players such as Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Vince Carter, Rasheed Wallace, and Tracy McGrady.

Sonny Vaccaro

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

O'Bannon vs. NCAA

In the later part of his career, Sonny Vaccaro spoke out against the treatment of college kids by the NCAA and advocated for their fair share. He helped recruit Ed O'Bannon for what became the O'Bannon vs. NCAA lawsuit that would allow for the players to be compensated. Vaccaro placed the blame at the top saying the universities and shoe companies were the start of the whole problem.


Vaccaro was the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary titled "Sole Man" which aired in April of 2015 that focused on the corrosive effects of pouring so much marketing money into the college game.

A film called "Air" produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon about the signing of Michael Jordan by Nike features the role of Sonny being played by Damon.

Personal Life

Sonny Vaccaro and his wife, Pam, currently reside in Calabasas, California.

Basketball coach George Raveling was the best man at the Vaccaro wedding before the two had a falling out in the years to come. The two were always close friends but butted heads when Raveling took issue with the business of summer high school basketball camps run by Vaccaro. Raveling went on to become Vaccaro's competitor in the same position with Nike.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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