Michael Avenatti denies extortion charge, accuses Nike of 'crime and coverup'

  • Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti responds to federal charges that he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike.
  • He denies he had tried to extort Nike and accused the sports apparel giant of committing a "crime and coverup."
Michael Avenatti, attorney and founding partner of Eagan Avenatti LP, speaks to members of the media outside the federal court in New York, U.S., on Monday, March 25, 2019.
Louis Lanzano | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Michael Avenatti, attorney and founding partner of Eagan Avenatti LP, speaks to members of the media outside the federal court in New York, U.S., on Monday, March 25, 2019.

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti denied on Tuesday that he had tried to shake down Nike, and he accused the sports apparel giant of committing a "crime and coverup."

Avenatti tweeted his denial a day after he was arrested on federal charges, including trying to extort up to $25 million from the sports apparel company by threatening to reveal evidence he claimed he had of misconduct by company employees in the recruitment of college basketball players.

"I want to thank all of my supporters for your kind words and support today. It means a lot to me. I am anxious for people to see what really happened. We never attempted to extort Nike & when the evidence is disclosed, the public will learn the truth about Nike's crime & coverup," he tweeted.

"Contrary to Nike's claims yesterday, they have NOT been cooperating with investigators for over a year. Unless you count lying in response to subpoenas and withholding documents as 'cooperating.' They are trying to divert attention from their own crimes," he wrote in another tweet.

Nike did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Avenatti's latest statement.

Avenatti also tweeted that "corruption at Nike was rampant," and accused the retailer of lying to the government.

On Monday, the company said it "will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation" and that it "firmly believes in ethical and fair play, both in business and sports, and will continue to assist the prosecutors."

Avenatti was arrested in New York just 15 minutes after he tweeted that he would be revealing a high school and college basketball scandal "perpetrated by" Nike.

He was also separately charged in a federal case in Los Angeles with bank and wire fraud, including embezzling a client's money "in order to pay his own expenses and debts." He faces nearly 100 years in prison and potential disbarment as a lawyer if convicted in both cases.

Avenatti gained fame in the last year for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen. At one point last year, he announced that he was considering running for president.

Avenatti was released from Manhattan federal court after signing a $300,000 personal recognizance bond on Monday. In a news conference after his release, Avenatti said he was "highly confident" that when all the evidence was revealed, he would be "fully exonerated, and justice will be done."