Magic Johnson rose to superstardom through basketball, winning a national championship with Michigan State in 1979 and winning five NBA championships with the show-era Lakers.
But he became a billionaire mainly through business deals.
According to an article published by Forbes on Monday, Johnson’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, making him the fourth athlete recognized by the magazine to achieve billionaire status. He follows in the footsteps of retired NBA legend Michael Jordan (who became a billionaire in 2014), golfer Tiger Woods (2022) and current Lakers star LeBron James (2022).
“It feels really good to be here with these three guys who have accomplished so much — Jordan, Tiger, LeBron —” Johnson told The Times in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “I feel great. Admired them and had a lot of respect for them.” Because they moved on. They are developing their own brand. They are growing their own companies. “
He added that another Lakers legend should make this exclusive list. “You know who’s going to be the fifth billionaire? Kobe Bryant,” Johnson said of the Lakers legend, who died in 2020 at age 41. “He’s already moving in that direction.”
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What separates Johnson, 64, from the other three billionaire athletes is that he amassed relatively little wealth as a player. Although Johnson was the face of the Lakers and one of the most famous players in the NBA in the 1980s and 1990s, he earned about $40 million in his career and another $2 million to $4 million annually, according to Forbes. Dollars in endorsement income.
Jordan won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, earning $94 million in salary and signing bonuses and an estimated $2.4 billion in endorsements during his 15-season career from 1984 to 2003. . Woods and James remain active athletes.
According to Forbes, Johnson’s entry into the ten-figure club was largely due to his joint ventures and partnerships. Jordan, who was the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets from 2010 until selling his majority stake in the team earlier this year, has been an inspiration, he told The Times.
“You need someone to push you and keep you grinding and working hard and pursuing your goals and dreams,” Johnson told The Times. “So Michael Jordan accomplished what he accomplished and became the first of our athletes Being a billionaire, that motivates me to keep working hard.”
Johnson expressed appreciation for his many mentors and business partners over the years.
“You can’t get there alone,” Johnson told The Times. “Michael has his people. I have my people. It’s not something I enjoy doing alone. All these people who have been around me and the people I just mentioned, and my business partners, they put me in a position Incredible location.”
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The late Lakers owner Jerry Buss was one of the first to bring Johnson under his wing in the business world, selling Johnson a minority stake in the team in 1994 (Johnson later sold his stake to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times )).
“Basically, a lot of the credit goes to Dr. Bass,” Johnson told The Times. “That’s his guidance.” He mentored me, he was like a father figure and made sure I had all the tools I needed to succeed. When you think about days like this, you wish he and my dad (Ervin Johnson Sr.) were still alive to see what I accomplished. “
Some of Johnson’s other early investments included deals with Lowes and Starbucks, which became quite lucrative as the basketball star helped those companies expand into predominantly black communities.
According to Forbes, Johnson’s current investments are wide and diverse, but the largest asset in Johnson’s portfolio is his 60% stake in EquiTrust Life Insurance. Since Johnson took over as majority shareholder in 2015, the company’s total assets have grown from $16 billion to $26 billion, with annual revenue of approximately $2.6 billion.
He also became a high-profile minority owner of several teams, including the Dodgers, Sparks, Los Angeles FC, and most recently, the Washington Commanders.
“You know, what I’m really happy about is that I was able to put a lot of black people in power and help them become millionaires,” Johnson said. “I’m very happy about that.”
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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.