Magic Johnson joins exclusive athlete billionaires club

The former LA Lakers' basketballer now has a net worth of $1.2 billion

Magic Johnson has had a lucrative post-basketball career as an investor, according to Forbes. AFP
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Former basketball star Magic Johnson has become only the fourth professional athlete to be included in the exclusive billionaires club, with a net worth of $1.2 billion, according to the latest calculations by Forbes magazine.

Following a “lucrative post-basketball career as an investor”, Johnson, 64, joins fellow basketballers Michael Jordan, who has a net worth of $3 billion, and LeBron James ($1 billion) and golfer Tiger Woods ($1.8 billion) in the club, Forbes said.

Since retiring from basketball in 1991 after being diagnosed with HIV, Johnson has invested in numerous ventures through his company Magic Johnson Enterprises, including professional sports teams, movie cinemas, Starbucks and a 60 per cent stake in health insurance provider EquiTrust.

“EquiTrust makes up the largest portion of Johnson’s personal net worth – since the purchase, the Iowa-based company’s assets have skyrocketed from $16 billion to $26 billion, with annual revenue of roughly $2.6 billion,” Forbes said.

Earlier this month, Michael Jordan became the first professional athlete to be ranked among the 400 wealthiest people in the US.

Jordan sold his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets basketball team in August. The deal was valued at about $3 billion, 17 times its worth when Jordan became lead owner in 2010.

He bought the team for $275 million in 2010 and retains a minority stake. Before the sale, Jordan’s net worth was $2 billion.

Jordan earned about $90 million over his playing career. However, the majority of his wealth is derived from investments and licensing deals.

Meanwhile, Johnson has stakes in the Washington Commanders football team, women’s Los Angeles Sparks basketball team, baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Football Club, which has been valued at $1 billion.

During his 13-year career with the LA Lakers, which he joined in 1979 as the team’s first draft pick, Johnson earned a total of $40 million.

“Over the past three decades, Johnson has launched a chain of movie theatres in a partnership with Loews, setting up theatres in predominantly black neighbourhoods in major cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston and New York City – he also began a 50/50 venture with Starbucks to open cafes in black neighbourhoods,” Forbes said.

The 12-time NBA All-Star also owns a minority stake in a PepsiCo bottling plant, which he purchased in a $60 million deal with investor Earl Graves in 1990, according to Forbes.

Updated: October 30, 2023, 8:19 AM