We show by molecular-dynamics (MD) simulations and cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) experiments that the size and form of structurally persistent micelles formed by the T-shaped amphiphile 1 are controlled by the counterions. The two techniques reveal that the micelles are specifically stabilized by sodium counterions relative to potassium ions. Both the simulations and the cryo-TEM experiments suggest that the micelles are stabilized by strongly conserved hydrated contact ion pairs with sodium counterions but not with potassium ions. We suggest that the TEM is observing local high density due to hydrated carboxylate/sodium ion pairs at the surface of the micelle. A high concentration of such structures is found in MD simulations with sodium counterions, but not with potassium.