Attorney Michael Avenatti, in an interview airing Wednesday, denied claims he tried to extort millions of dollars from Nike, but also accused the sportswear giant of funneling payments to amateur athletes.
"Any suggestion is absolutely absurd," Avenatti told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. "Nike knew, from the very first moment that I had any contact with Nike, that I was insisting that the truth about what Nike had done be disclosed to federal prosecutors and investigators."
He added that the "truth is" that the company and its executives "have been funneling payments to amateur players, high school players and to their handlers and family members in an effort to get them to go to colleges that were Nike colleges and ultimately hopefully to the NBA so they can sign a shoe deal with Nike."
Avenatti, who became nationally known while representing adult actress Stormy Daniels in her claims against President Donald Trump, was arrested earlier this week after being charged in New York with extortion and in California on bank and wire fraud. He faces up to almost 100 years in prison if convicted, and admitted in the CBS interview to being "nervous" but confident because "the facts are on my side."
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, for the Southern District of New York, said that Avenatti was not acting as an attorney with his contacts with Nike, but was engaged in an "old-fashioned shakedown."
The California complaint alleges Avenatti tried to embezzle $1.6 million from a client, which the attorney also denies.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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