It isn’t quite the knockout of Muhammad Ali delivering the crushing blow to George Foreman in Round 8 of the Rumble in Jungle but today the company that holds the rights to the Greatest hit Fox hard with a $30 million lawsuit.
The two-count complaint filed in federal court in Illinois by Muhammad Ali Enterprises claims that Fox Broadcasting Company had no right to depict the boxing legend in a promo that they ran on February 3 right before Super Bowl LI – which came months after Ali had passed away on June 3, 2016.
Watch the Anthony Mackie-narrated promo here before Fox likely takes it down:
“MAE brings these claims for false endorsement and violation of the right of publicity against Fox for the damages caused and profits unjustly gained by Fox for its unauthorized use of Muhammad Ali’s identity,” the eight-page complaint asserts of “The Greatest” video that was shown right before the big game and linked Ali with various NFL legends. “The video uses Ali to define greatness and ultimately to compare the NFL legends to Ali and thus to define them and the Super Bowl as ‘greatness’ too,” the document deftly contextualizes.
“Fox’s unauthorized use of Ali’s identity, including his image and persona, in its promotional video was a false or misleading representation of fact that falsely implies Ali’s or MAE’s endorsement of Fox’s services,” the filing from Chicago firm Schiff Hardin LLP adds (read it here).
“Fox’s promotional video uses Ali’s identity to promote Fox and its broadcast services,” they go on to say before winding up a powerful legal left hook.”Fox could have sold the three minutes it used for its promotional video to other advertisers for $30 million.”
Fox has not responded to Deadline’s request for comment on the case. In another Fox connection, American Idol producers Core Media Group sold the lucrative Ali rights to Authentic Brand four years ago – when the now ABC set competition show was on Fox.
The Chicago firm looks to be a good one for MAE to have in their corner. Two years ago, also in the Land of Lincoln, Schiff Hardin scored a $8.9 million verdict for Michael Jordan in Sports Illustrated’s use of the NBA legend’s “identity” in a limited edition publication.