MSNBC’s Ali Velshi couldn’t hold back his shock over the arrest of attorney Michael Avenatti on charges of trying to extort $20 million out of Nike, remarking that his skull was going “to explode.”
NBC investigative reporter Tom Winter outlined the story, saying that Avenatti had earlier scheduled a press conference to discuss a case he was pursuing against the company, and then wound up getting arrested himself in an investigation that had “been going on over the past several weeks”, based on evidence provided by “at least one cooperating co-conspirator.”
“This does not have to do at all with anything involving Stormy Daniels or involving Michael Cohen, but it does appear to be a significant scheme,” Winter said. “It’s not an indictment, it’s a charge at this point, but for all intents and purposes, Stormy Daniels’ former attorney faces significant federal legal trouble going forward.”
“My head is officially going to explode, I don’t understand what this is about,” said a gobsmacked Velshi. “This seems to have something to do with threatening the company with his ability to garner publicity, which he may be one of the finest people in America in terms of his ability to garner publicity, and that would inflict damage or reputational harm on the company. Do we know what this is about?”
Winter, quoting court documents, replied that Avenatti had begun threatening Nike’s lawyers during the confluence of the NCAA’s March Madness tournament –“an event of significance to Nike and its brand”– and the company’s quarterly earnings call, and, in remarkably frank terms caught by federal investigators, demanded millions from the company.
“On one of the phone calls Avenatti stated, in part, ‘I’m not expletive around with this and I’m not continuing to play games. You guys know enough now to know you have just got a serious problem,'” Winters said, reading the transcript. “‘It’s worth more to me in exposure to just to blow the lid on this thing. A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me.'” Avenatti continues to threaten Nike’s lawyers, ultimately claiming “I’ll take $10 billion off your client’s market cap.”
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