CHICAGO (CN) – Married NBA icon Michael Jordan does not owe a former lover $5 million as part of an alleged contract to keep the media and Jordan’s wife from finding out about their affair, an Illinois appellate court ruled.
The court dismissed the claims of singer Karla Knafel, who said Jordan promised to give her the money when he retired in exchange for keeping quiet and agreeing not to file a paternity suit after finding out in 1991 that she was pregnant.
Jordan admitted that he had a relationship with Knafel “more than a decade” before 2002, when he sued her for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. He claimed Knafel had already extorted $250,000 by threatening to go public with the affair. Knafel maintained that the quarter million was for her “mental pain and anguish arising from their romantic relationship.”
Knafel said the basketball star was “troubled” when she told him “she was pregnant with his child” and urged her to abort, but she refused because of her personal beliefs. That’s when she said Jordan put the deal on the table as a way to “resolve their problems.”
Knafel pressured Jordan throughout the 1990s – after two retirement announcements – make good on his alleged promise. But he retired in 1998 without paying her, and instead filed a lawsuit stating that their contract constituted unenforceable extortion.
Moreover, two paternity tests concluded that Jordan was not the father of Knafel’s child. Knafel admitted to having unprotected sex with another man during her relationship with Jordan, but argued that actual paternity was irrelevant; Jordan made a verbal contract based on information Knafel “believed in good faith” at the time.
The court disagreed and ruled that, even if the contract were enforceable, Jordan is entitled to rescission based on a “mutual mistake of fact” over the child’s paternity. See ruling.