Business

This is how much OJ Simpson made from endorsement deals with Hertz, other big brands before his arrest

The family of suspected double killer Orenthal James Simpson (OJ Simpson) said Thursday that he died of cancer at 76. 

“On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer,” a statement by the family said. “He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace.”

Before joining the NFL, Simpson was a notable collegiate footballer. After winning the Heisman Trophy at USC, he played for the 49ers and Bills. After retiring in 1979, he starred in Hollywood films, including The Naked Gun.

But by the late 20th century, he had become one of the most controversial figures in the U.S. after he was acquitted of the murder of his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend in a trial that attracted millions of viewers in the U.S. and beyond.

Prior to his arrest and high-profile murder trial, Simpson had so many ambassadorial deals. His first ambassadorial deal was with General Motors in 1970, even before he played in an NFL game. According to Sports Illustrated, he was paid $250,000 ($2 million in 2024 dollars after adjusting for inflation) to appear in Chevrolet commercials.

Four years later, he signed his first deal with Hertz Corporation as part of a $12.6 million advertising campaign. In an interview with the New York Times, he revealed that the car rental company paid him between $100,000 and $250,000 (about $670,000 to $1.6 million in 2024, adjusted for inflation).

As per Forbes, the ad campaign was wildly successful for the rental car company, resulting in Hertz posting net profits 47% higher in 1976.

What is more, Simpson also inked a deal to become the chief spokesperson for TreeSweet orange juice. According to the Times, it was a five-year contract for over $1 million plus a percentage of sales.

Simpson had a net worth of $10 million and was making around $1 million per year by the time he divorced Brown in 1992. According to the Washington Post, approximately $550,000 of that income came from Hertz, with the rest coming from film and television.

At the peak of his career, Simpson made more money from advertising gigs than from football. “I used to call the football season my off-season,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1989.

Five years later, Simpson was arrested over the murder of his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson was expected to turn himself in but on the day that was to happen, he tried to flee pursuing police officers in a white Ford Bronco, leading the officers on a slow-speed chase through the Los Angeles area. The chase was broadcast live. During the trial, prosecutors argued that Simpson murdered Brown in a jealous fury, BBC reported. Prosecutors provided evidence including hair, blood and fibre tests connecting Simpson to the murders.

But according to the defense, Simpson was just being framed by “racist” police officers. Then came one of the most unforgettable moments when prosecutors asked Simpson to wear a pair of gloves they alleged he wore during the stabbings. Simpson struggled to put the gloves on. One of his lawyers, Johnnie Cochrane, eventually told the jury in his closing arguments: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

In 2008, years after the not-guilty verdict, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in jail. He was found guilty of an armed robbery in Las Vegas but was granted parole after serving a minimum of nine years.

Hertz ended its relationship with Simpson after Brown’s killing in 1994, saying it had “no plans to utilize Mr. Simpson in any kind of advertising”.

 

Abu Mubarik

Abu Mubarik is a journalist with years of experience in digital media. He loves football and tennis.

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