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Magic Johnson Is a Billionaire: 5 Things to Know About His Business Ventures

The NBA icon is the fourth athlete to achieve billionaire status.

NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson is the newest member of the billionaire club, CBS News reports. The Los Angeles Lakers legend becomes the fourth athlete to achieve billionaire status along with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Tiger Woods.

Herald as one of the greatest NBA players of all time, Johnson played 12 seasons with the Lakers from 1979 to 1991, winning five championships, three MVP awards, and was named to 12 All-Star games. In 1991, after he was diagnosed with HIV. He would return in 1995 for one more season before retiring for good following the 1996 season.

When Johnson signed a 25-year, $25 million contract in 1984, it was the longest and richest deal in sports history. By today’s standards, it would be the veteran’s minimum for an NBA player. Johnson made approximately $40 Million during his 13-year career. After retiring from the league, he would build his empire by making lucrative business moves off the field as chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises.

To spotlight his business acumen, here are 5 Things To Know About Magic Johnson’s Business Ventures.

  1. An Historic Investment In Pepsi

    While still in his prime and coming off an MVP season, Johnson showed the world that he was a force to be reckoned with on the court and in the boardroom when he bought a controlling stake in a Pepsi-Cola Co. (Now PepsiCo) bottling plant for an estimated $60 Million in 1990. Along with Black Enterprise founder Earl Graves, they formed the largest minority-owned and operated Pepsi facility in the country at that time. The historic business deal was Johnson’s first business venture outside of product endorsements.

  2. Launching Magic Johnson Theaters

    While still in his prime and coming off an MVP season, Johnson showed the world that he was a force to be reckoned with on the court and in the boardroom when he bought a controlling stake in a Pepsi-Cola Co. (Now PepsiCo) bottling plant for an estimated $60 Million in 1990. Along with Black Enterprise founder Earl Graves, they formed the largest minority-owned and operated Pepsi facility in the country at that time. The historic business deal was Johnson’s first business venture outside of product endorsements.

  3. Bringing a Cup of Starbucks To The Inner-City

    As Starbucks enjoyed massive growth in the 1990s, the Seattle-based coffee chain lacked a presence in Black communities. Seeing a business opportunity in 1998, Johnson met with then-Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz to make him an offer that he couldn’t refuse. According to Johnson, Schultz did not believe that Starbucks could turn a profit in the inner city until a movie screening at a Magic Johnson Theater on the opening night of “Waiting to Exhale” starring Whitney Houston. After Scholtz watched 500 Black women in a theater he said to Johnson, ‘Earvin, I never had a movie-going experience quite like this.’ Shortly, thereafter, Johnson and Schultz agreed to expand Starbucks into the inner city with “pound cake instead of scones”  Johnson joked. In an interview with Maverick Carter in an episode of “Kneading Dough,” by Uninterrupted, Johnson said that stroking the Starbucks deals “is what really stamped me as a serious businessman.”

  4. He Has a Controlling Interest In EquiTrust

    In 2015, Johnson’s Magic Johnson Enterprises acquired a 60% interest in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, which managed $14.5 billion in annuities, life insurance, and other financial products. While Johnson’s portfolio consisted of mainly sports and entertainment assets, the purchase of EquiTrust was his first foray into the financial services industry. Since MJE became the majority shareholder, the company has amassed $17 Billion in assets and earned Ward’s Top 50 Performing Insurance Companies recognition.

  5. Co-Owner In Several Professional Sports Teams

    As one of the most popular figures in modern sports, Johnson's business holdings in professional sports teams made perfect sense and plenty of dollars.

    He began investing in progression sports teams by purchasing 4.5 percent of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1994. He sold his interest in the team in 2010. Also, Johnson is a founding member of Guggenheim Baseball Management,  the managing entity that purchased the MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. In other professional leagues, owns stakes in the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and the MLS' Los Angeles FC.

    As a member of the ownership group led by billionaire Josh Harris, Johnson became a co-owner of the Washington Commanders for $6.05 billion, a record for an NFL franchise. With his investment, Johnson became the third Black owner in the NFL, along with Ariel Investments CEO Mellody Hobson and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, co-owners of the Denver Broncos. A champion at every level, Johnson has won 14 total championships during his career, one in college, five as an NBA player, and eight as an owner

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