“The Last Dance” was filled with hot dishes about Michael Jordan’s time with the six-time champion Chicago Bulls.
Now, some proceeds from the Emmy-winning documentary will go toward hot dishes for the nation’s hungry.
Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief outfit, on Wednesday thanked His Airness for a $2 million gift to the organization, which comes as the pandemic is pushing an inordinate number of Americans into food security.
“In these challenging times and in a year of unimaginable difficulty due to Covid-19, it’s more important than ever to pause and give thanks,” the 14-time NBA All-Star said in a tweet sent by the organization.
“I am proud to be donating additional proceeds from ‘The Last Dance’ to Feeding America and its member food banks in the Carolinas and Chicago,” Jordan said.
ESPN’s 10-part documentary on one of the greatest basketball players in history (and, yes, many hoops heads would argue the greatest) came as a welcome distraction in April, near the beginning of the pandemic.
“The Last Dance” was cobbled together from hundreds of hours of footage documenting the Bulls’ rise to total dominance in the 1990s, with a special focus on the 1997-1998 season, when Jordan & Co. won their last of six titles.
The documentary series was set for a June debut, but after Covid-19 forced a hiatus to the NBA season and other sports offerings, ESPN moved up its release to fill the programming void.
Sports nuts and dabblers alike loved it, with 5.6 million people tuning into each episode on average, making it the most-watched ESPN documentary ever, surpassing a 2012 production about Auburn University’s two-sport phenom, Bo Jackson.
The timing of MJ’s donation is excellent, as Feeding America warned earlier this month that more than 54 million Americans could soon be facing food insecurity — a number that rivals recession statistics.
That’s roughly 16% of the population, more than 1 in 6 Americans. The sum represents roughly 17 million more people than were going hungry before the coronavirus outbreak, Feeding America estimates.
“What we’ve seen has been, unfortunately, a steady level of greatly, significantly increased need since the pandemic started,” said Katie Fitzgerald, the nonprofit’s chief operating officer.
“About 40 percent of the people who are showing up for food distributions have never before had to rely on charitable food assistance.”
In April, the US Department of Agriculture said it had set aside more than $1.7 billion to assist food banks in the then-looming crisis.