Michael Avenatti sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for attempting to extort Nike


(CNN)A federal judge on Thursday sentenced celebrity lawyer turned criminal defendant Michael Avenatti to 30 months in prison for attempting to extort millions of dollars from Nike.

Avenatti, who rose to fame as Stormy Daniels‘ lawyer, was convicted in February 2020 of three counts for threatening to publicly accuse the sportswear company of illicitly paying amateur basketball players unless Nike paid him.

“Mr. Avenatti’s conduct was outrageous,” US District Judge Paul Gardephe said during sentencing. “Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform, or what he perceived his platform to be.”

    Speaking before the court Thursday, Avenatti, who’s 50, openly wept, choking up at several points and pausing in his remarks before continuing. Referring to the two platforms that fueled his rise to fame, he told the judge that “TV and Twitter, your honor, mean nothing.”

      “I betrayed my own values, my friends, my family and myself,” he said. “I, and I alone, have destroyed my career, my relationships, my life.”

          After initial conversations with Avenatti, Nike’s lawyers had approached prosecutors about what they believed was his attempt to extort them. The FBI secretly recorded subsequent conversations between Avenatti and the Nike lawyers, and the colorful quotes, many of which the judge read aloud Thursday, formed the basis for the indictment.

          This story has been updated with further details.