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Michael Jordan’s Wife Yvette Prieto Once Got Into a Notable Cuban Industry Years Before Marrying the NBA Billionaire

Published 03/04/2024, 9:02 AM EST

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Did you know Michael Jordan and his wife, Yvette Prieto, met for the first time in Florida? It was back in 2007 at a Miami nightclub. A fun fact about Florida: It is the state with the largest Cuban population in the US. Prieto, born in Cuba, graduated from the University of Florida, and a little time down the line, her and Jordan’s paths crossed. While pre-2007 Michael Jordan is no stranger to the world, pre-2007 Yvette Prieto certainly is…

The impact of one’s cultural background is often quite significant when it comes to business and entrepreneurship. This is particularly true for Yvette Prieto, whose Cuban heritage encouraged her to enter a rapidly growing market. Per a video on the Nicki Swift YouTube channel, “After graduating from the University of Florida, Yvette Prieto tried her hand in the business world. The Cuban native reportedly worked for her parent’s company – a hospital – as well as in the real estate market. Prieto also helped her entrepreneurial father in his cigar manufacturing business before she changed career paths.”

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The revenue of the cigar industry in 2024 is estimated to be around $23.4 billion. According to Statista, from 2024 to 2028, predictions indicate a consistent yearly growth rate of 4.13%. With the most income, the United States emerged as a major player in this sector, demonstrating the continued appeal of cigars to connoisseurs. While the US may be a major player, Cuba is considered the cigar capital of the world.

As a luxury good savored on special occasions, cigars are very popular, as evidenced by the income earned per capita. Although the extent of Prieto’s involvement in the cigar industry while working with her father is not publicly known, there’s no doubt that those experiences laid the foundation for what was to follow. As for Jordan, in a 2005 interview with Cigar Aficionado, he revealed, “In Chicago, we had to be at the stadium at 6 o’clock for home games, and traffic was so bad it would take us an hour and 15 or an hour and 30 minutes to drive.”

He continued, “So now, I’m sitting in a car for almost an hour and a half, and I’m very tense. I’m worried about the traffic. So I started smoking a cigar going to the games in 1993. It became a ritual for every home game.” Coming back to Prieto, she was driven by ambition and a desire to forge her way. Her time supporting her father’s cigar manufacturing company and working in real estate likely gave her excellent industry knowledge. And from what we can gather, she helped bring one of Michael Jordan’s dreams to life through her expertise.

Yvette Prieto’s journey through the years

Due to Prieto’s tenacity and spirit of entrepreneurship, she looked for chances outside of Cuba and eventually entered the fashion industry. Prieto’s Cuban heritage continued to impact her viewpoint and professional path as she developed her abilities and made a name for herself as a model, even having modeled for Alexander Wang. As she forged her path in the fashion industry, a chance encounter with Jordan in 2007 opened a new chapter in her life.

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At one point, basketball may have been everything for Michael Jordan. However, over the years, he also developed a love for golf. So, years after he hung up his Air Jordans, married Yvette Prieto, and moved to Florida, he wanted to create his own ultra-exclusive golf course. Grove XXIII may have officially appeared on the golf map in 2019, but it took years of brainstorming and ideation to become the luxurious property it is today. And it has hints of Prieto’s influence.

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Years Before Lavish $3 Billion Lifestyle, Michael Jordan’s Wife Yvette Prieto Once Suffered Bankruptcy

One of the aspects of Grove XXIII that stands out is its 15,000-square-foot clubhouse with a curved structure. To bring this design masterpiece to life, keeping in mind Jordan and Prieto’s tastes, they hired Nichols Architects and Dailey Janssen, the same firm that designed one of Prieto’s favorite hotels, the W South Beach in Miami.

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Yvette Prieto’s involvement in the $23.4 billion cigar industry illustrates how culture, entrepreneurship, and the dynamics of the global market converge. While she may have worked in the industry for only a short time before finding what she really loved, it was a stepping stone in Prieto’s journey that helped her make a name for herself.

Michael Jordan’s Wedding to Cuban Wife Yvette Prieto Was Made Further Prodigious by 16 Athletes’ Heartwarming Gestures

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Written by:

Arya Patil

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Arya is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. She skillfully combines her academic acumen with a passion for the game that she developed over years of watching the ups and downs of the NBA. Arya is a seasoned journalist who provides fans with a detailed look at the league's inner workings.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph