Michael Avenatti Thanks Supporters After Nike Extortion Arrest: 'I am Anxious for People to See What Really Happened'

Michael Avenatti thanked his supporters on Twitter after he was arrested on charges of multimillion-dollar extortion relating to the global sportswear brand Nike.

The high-profile California-based attorney is accused of threatening to damage Nike's business with allegations made by his client, a basketball coach, about payments to top high school players, unless the company paid them millions of dollars.

"I want to thank all of my supporters for your kind words and support today," Avenatti tweeted after he was released on a $300,000 bail and surrendered his passport. "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."

Before news of his arrest broke, Avenatti tweeted that he and a client would hold a press conference at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday to disclose what he described as a major high school and college basketball scandal involving Nike.

"This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball," Avenatti wrote on Monday.

Prosecutors allege that Avenatti told Nike that unless his client was paid $1.5 million and himself up to $25 million to conduct an "internal review" of related issues at the company, he would go public at a press conference with his client's claims.

According to the court filing by federal prosecutors in New York, an attorney representing Nike told Avenatti they had never received the kind of money he demanded, either as a retainer or to conduct an investigation.

Avenatti allegedly replied by asking if Nike's attorney has ever "held the balls of the client in your hand where you could take five to six billion dollars market cap off them."

The company and its attorneys reported Avenatti to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

"Nike will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation," the company said in a statement. "When Mr. Avenatti attempted to extort Nike over this matter, Nike, with the assistance of outside counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner, aided the investigation."

Avenatti denies any wrongdoing and says he will be fully exonerated in court.

The attorney is also accused in a separate affidavit in Los Angeles, also filed on Monday, of embezzling $1.6 million from a client by not passing on settlement money due to them, instead using it for himself, and committing bank fraud to secure loans.

He is due back in court in both California and New York in April. Avenatti did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Avenatti rose to prominence by representing Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, an adult film actress who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump and was paid $130,000 for her silence by the president's former fixer Michael Cohen ahead of the 2016 election.

Avenatti has since taken on clients making allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the singer R. Kelly, keeping him in the spotlight, as well as mulling a potential run for the Democratic Party's 2020 nomination before ruling himself out.

Michael Avenatti Nike extortion Twitter
Michael Avenatti, the former lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels and a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, speaks to the media after being arrested for allegedly trying to extort Nike for $15 to $25 million on March 25 in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images