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Newest Black Billionaire: Retired Basketball star, Magic Johnson is worth $1.2B

Retired basketball legend, Magic Johnson, has entered the elite ranks of black billionaires, becoming only the fourth athlete to do so.

Forbes reports that his estimated wealth stands at a staggering $1.2 billion (£990 million). Johnson now joins the exclusive club alongside fellow billionaire athletes such as NBA icons Michael Jordan and LeBron James, as well as golfer Tiger Woods.

While a significant portion of his wealth is tied to investments in various companies and ownership stakes in sports teams, Forbes notes that a life insurance company holds the majority of his assets.

Although Johnson enjoyed a storied NBA career before retiring in 1996, it’s his ventures beyond the realm of sports that have truly propelled his financial success.

Forbes underlines that Johnson amassed $40 million from his NBA career.

What you should know

Johnson possesses ownership stakes in three Los Angeles-based sports teams, including the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers. Beyond sports, his investment portfolio includes holdings in Burger King, 24 Hour Fitness, and the life insurance company EquiTrust.

Yet, his investments extend even further, encompassing a movie theater chain, Starbucks, and a soda bottling plant on the East Coast.

Simultaneously, he’s a multi-platform media mogul and sought-after keynote speaker, commanding speaking fees ranging from $75,000 to $225,000, according to the Keynote Speaker Bureau. 

Johnson reflects on a pivotal turning point in his financial journey. He had the opportunity to become a billionaire much earlier but declined shares in Nike when entering the NBA in the 1970s.

Nike offered him $1 for each shoe sold and 100,000 shares in stocks at $0.18 per share. However, Johnson, lacking financial knowledge, opted for a deal with Converse, which guaranteed him $100,000 annually.

In hindsight, Johnson ruefully acknowledged his decision, stating, “My family didn’t come from money, that’s one thing that hurt us sometimes.

When you don’t come from money, you don’t know. I didn’t even know what stocks [were] at that time,” Johnson said on the All The Smoke podcast earlier this year.

  • “So I passed on the stocks. Can you imagine? 45 years, $5 billion that stock would have been worth today.”


Earvin Johnson Jr., born on August 14, 1959, in Lansing, Michigan, grew up in a bustling household with nine siblings. His passion for basketball ignited early.

During his time at Everett High School, Johnson earned the moniker “Magic” after a jaw-dropping performance of 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists in a single game.

Standing tall at 6’9, he’s often hailed as the greatest point guard in history. Johnson’s 13-season NBA career began when the Los Angeles Lakers selected him first overall in the 1979 NBA draft.

He steered the team to five NBA championships during the legendary Showtime era.

On Nov. 7, 1991, Johnson retired due to his HIV diagnosis, changing perceptions about the disease. His disclosure had a profound impact, fostering empathy and increasing awareness.

He even made a triumphant return to the 1992 All-Star Game, securing the MVP Award. Despite initial resistance, he returned to the Lakers in 1996 before retiring for the final time at age 36.

At 64, Johnson’s influence extends beyond the court. He is now a limited owner of the Commanders in the NFL and has stakes in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Sparks, and Los Angeles FC.

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