Celebrity Attorney Michael Avenatti Allegedly Attempted to Extort Nike for Up to $22.5 Million

By A.J. Katz 

Lightning rod celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti is in hot water. He was arrested in Manhattan at the law offices of Boies Schiller Flexner today at 12:30 p.m. ET by FBI agents.

According to a complaint filed in New York today by the FBI, the outspoken Los Angeles-based attorney—who frequently appeared on CNN and MSNBC, especially during the height of the Stormy Daniels saga—allegedly attempted to extort $22.5 million from Nike.

Nike sent Adweek brand marketing editor Kristina Monllos the following statement earlier today:

“Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation. Nike has been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year. When Nike became aware of this matter, Nike immediately reported it to federal prosecutors.”

The Nike statement continued: “When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation. Nike firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors.”

He is also facing bank and fraud changes in Los Angeles.

Mark Geragos, a fellow high-profile California criminal defense lawyer, who is now representing Empire star Jussie Smollet, has been named as an “unnamed co-conspirator.”

Geragos had been a CNN legal contributor, but apparently that’s no longer the case.

Avenatti gained fame for representating porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen related to a NDA Daniels had signed on the night before the 2016 presidential election to keep her alleged affair with Trump under wraps, in exchange for a $130,000 payment.

Daniels would eventually drop Avenatti as her lawyer earlier this month after conflict with him.

Avenatti (and Daniels) became well-known figures in recent years. Avenatti loved to talk to the press, and the duo got a 60 Minutes profile in March 2018. Avenatti frequently appeared on cable news programming in 2017 and 2018, and was reportedly pitched to co-host a sort-of revival of Crossfire with Anthony Scaramucci in May 2018, which he turned down.

Avenatti’s most recent cable news appearance we were able to track down was Oct. 1, 2018 on Cuomo Prime Time.

He was also seen at multiple White House Correspondents Dinner soirees in April 2018, including those hosted by NBC News/MSNBC, CBS News, CNN, the 25th annual “garden party,” co-hosted by Tammy Haddad, and the United Talent Agency (UTA) party.

He was also considering a run for president in late 2018 through early 2019.