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  /  01.14.2023

Magic Johnson could have been a billionaire years ago, but he passed up a lucrative offer in disguise early on in his NBA career. The basketball great recently said he is still kicking himself for naively chasing fast money when he had no understanding of the long money game.

In a clip circulating across social media on Saturday (Jan. 14), Johnson appeared on the “All The Smoke” podcast, where he divulged tales about his career on and off the court. When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Johnson in 1979, he became an instant star. Alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott and others, the 6’ 9″ basketball standout ushered in the team’s “Showtime Era.” He also helped lead them to an NBA Championship win in his rookie season, a feat that only he has achieved. He instantly became a hot commodity and the target of corporations hoping to land him as a sponsored athlete.

“Here I am just winning a national championship against Larry Bird, and three companies came in — Converse, Adidas and Nike,” recalled the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. The three-time NBA MVP continued, “Nike was just a year or two old. And so, Converse offered me the most money. So, you know, when you grow up broke, you take the money.”


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The mogul previously revealed that Converse offered him $100,000 for every year he was signed to them. Nike’s offer, however, would not result in him pocketing cash upfront. “Phil Knight (Nike co-founder) came in [and] said, ‘Hey, I can’t offer you the same type of money, but I can offer you stock,’” he recalled. To be exact, Nike was willing to pay him $1 for every pair of shoes sold and 100,000 shares of the company’s stock, according to Cassius. At the time, one share was worth about $0.18, which is nothing compared to today’s price of $128.85.

Johnson clenched his teeth and placed his hands on his head as he let out a frustrated sigh. “I wasn’t [trying to hear that] and I didn’t know nothin’ about it,” said the retired legend. “My family didn’t come from money. That’s one thing that hurts us sometimes, when you don’t come from money… I didn’t even know what stocks was at that time. So I passed on the stocks. Can you imagine 45 years, $5 billion [is what] that stock would have been worth today,” he added.

Last year, while on a promotional tour for his Apple TV docuseries, “They Call Me Magic,” he joked about the decision. “It kills me every single time I think about that. Man, Michael Jordan would have been making me so much money,” said the successful businessman. While he may have missed out on a boatload of money, Johnson has still made a fortune with his various endeavors and has remained a relevant figure in the sports world.

View Magic Johnson’s full interview below.


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