What Is Magic Johnson’s Net Worth? The NBA Veteran Is A Brilliant Businessman
The subject of HBO Max’s Winning Time and Apple TV+’s They Call Me Magic invests a lot of money.
Magic Johnson has already earned his spot in the history books as one of the best basketball players of all time. He’s won championships and Olympic medals, made millions on the court, and he even changed how the world views HIV by sharing his own positive diagnosis. In the decades since he stopped playing basketball professionally, Johnson has proven himself to be an astute entrepreneur, and his net worth has grown by leaps and bounds when he refocused his energy as a businessman who wants to reinvigorate urban neighborhoods.
Now, millions are learning about Johnson and his backstory via two new series that spotlight who he is as a man and an athlete. HBO Max’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty tells the story of his first NBA team and their rise to new heights, while Apple TV+’s They Call Me Magic is a new docuseries about his life and career.
Read on to learn how much Johnson is worth and how many businesses he owns or invests in.
4 Ways Magic Johnson Made His Millions
In 1979, Johnson was the first player picked in the first round of the draft, so he began his career as a closely watched player. He went on to help the team to an NBA championship the first year he was a member of the group, and that turned out to be just the beginning of his success on the court. He signed to the team for $25 million for 25 years, and at the time, that stood as both the largest sum paid to a player and the longest contract ever in the game.
Spotrac pegs Johnson’s first-year salary with the Lakers at $460,000, which Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty points out was one of the most impressive sums ever paid to a rookie, at least at the time. The outlet reports that throughout the years Johnson was attached to the team, he may have earned as much as $39 million.
Throughout his time as a Laker, the team would win five championships. Even after he retired suddenly from the game, he returned to play for the United States in the Olympics, and he and his fellow athletes from Team USA went on to win the gold medal.
After Lakers assistant coach Randy Pfund was fired, Johnson stepped in to coach for the 1993-1994 season, just one year after he’d stepped away as a player. In 2017, he was named president of basketball operations for the team, but he backed down from the position two years later. What he earned for those roles isn’t clear.
In June 1994, Johnson became a part-owner of the Lakers when he spent a reported $10 million to purchase what was estimated to be a 4.5% share of the team. He later sold that stake in 2010, potentially for as much as $30 million, according to Los Angeles Business Journal.
Starting in the beginning of his career, Johnson leveraged his fame, talent, and likability to partner with brands and increase his earnings. Throughout his years as a basketball star (and even afterward), he appeared in ads and commercials for companies like 7UP, KFC, Lincoln cars, McDonald’s, Quality Dairy, Slice soda, and even the NBA’s own line of merchandise. He spent 13 years as a spokesperson for Converse, and he was reportedly paid $2 million a year for his association, though by the end he was apparently unhappy with the deal.
Johnson was once offered a deal with Nike very early on in the company’s life, but since the company wanted to pay him in stock instead of cash, he turned it down. He has been very vocal about how he regrets that decision, as some outlets suggest that he could have earned billions from that contract, had he accepted the terms.
Just one year after he retired from basketball, Johnson signed a deal with Fox to produce films. A year later in 1998, he launched his own late-night talk show on Fox called The Magic Hour, though it only lasted one season, as the ratings were reportedly low. Even his comedian sidekick on the program called it “an absolute nightmare.”
For seven years, Johnson worked as an on-screen commentator for NBA games, signing a deal with ESPN and ABC in 2008. The former athlete has also spent years as a motivational speaker and someone who can be hired to headline private events hosted by companies, which usually feature famous figures giving speeches. Johnson even narrated a book in the mid-’90s called What You Can Do to Avoid AIDS, and his work on the audiobook earned him a Grammy.
After making millions as a basketball player and as a celebrity endorser, Johnson jumped into the business world and became an entrepreneur following his athletic career. This is common for many stars in sports, but Johnson has outearned almost all other players, and the money he’s made from his many, many ventures is much grander than what he took home for shooting hoops.
Below is a very quick look at the 40-plus companies Johnson has created or invested in throughout the decades, with almost all being connected to his namesake investing firm, Magic Johnson Enterprises.
- 24 Hour Fitness: Johnson partnered with nationwide gym chain 24 Hour Fitness to open Magic Johnson Sport Clubs. By 2003, there were at least half a dozen locations.
- Aetna: In 2008, Johnson signed a multiyear deal with insurance giant Aetna for an untold sum to create a program titled “Team Up for a Healthy Tomorrow,” which was formed to “improve health literacy, wellness, and racial and ethnic equality in health care in underserved suburban and urban communities,” according to the company. The partnership included Johnson making several public appearances, including once at the company’s headquarters to encourage employees to be active, thus cutting down on health-related costs.
- AFA Foods: At some point, Johnson and his company owned AFA Foods, a ground beef processor. After a news report highlighted the fact that the plant was using what became known as “pink slime,” business dropped considerably and the location was forced to close.
- Aspire: In 2011, Comcast announced it was looking to launch 10 new networks that focused on minority communities, and one ended up being AspireTV, which was created and unveiled by Johnson in 2012. The channel is “focused on uplifting the image of African-Americans and celebrating the success of those in the Black community,” and it features reality series, documentaries, comedy, music programming, and more.
- Best Buy: The electronics retail chain of stores signed with Johnson and his company to “strengthen its urban market presence and deepen relationships with multicultural customers.”
- Burger King: Despite the fact that he starred in ads for McDonald’s years prior, Johnson signed a deal to purchase 30 Burger King restaurants in cities such as Atlanta, Birmingham, Dallas, and Miami.
- Canyon Johnson Urban Fund: Johnson and his partner K. Robert Turner reportedly raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars to create the Canyon Johnson Urban Fund, which aimed to invest in urban real estate. The company apparently looked at two specific opportunities in Los Angeles, including the Hollywood and Highland complex, which is where the Academy Awards are held.
- Dayton Dragons: When it came to playing, Johnson stuck to basketball, but the same can’t be said for when he was looking after his business interests. In 2000, he became a co-owner of the Dayton Dragons minor league baseball team in Dayton, Ohio.
- EquiTrust: A dozen years after EquiTrust began operating as an independent life insurance company, Johnson’s firm became a controlling shareholder. The following year, the newly-run business passed $17 billion in assets.
- Fanatics: In 2021, Johnson joined the board of startup Fanatics, which claims it is “changing the way fans purchase their favorite team apparel, jerseys, headwear and hardgoods through an innovative, tech-infused approach to making and selling fan gear in today’s on-demand, mobile-first culture.”
- Fatburger: In 2001, Johnson led a group of investors as they collectively purchased the Fatburger chain, which at the time had 47 restaurants open. He sold it two years later, but that wasn’t the end of his involvement with the brand. In 2015, the former athlete and other investigators announced they planned to expand the fast food option with another 100 stores.
- Founders National Bank: Johnson teamed up with superstar singer Janet Jackson and record industry executive Jheryl Busby to purchase a 51% stake in Founders National Bank in 1998, which at the time was the only bank operating in southern California that was Black-owned. The three reportedly spent $3 million in the deal.
- JLC Infrastructure: Johnson’s Magic Johnson Enterprises partnered with Loop Capital Markets LLC to form JLC Infrastructure, which in 2017 signed a deal with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to rebuild New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. That venture was reportedly worth $8 billion. The following year, another project popped up, with Johnson’s JLC Infrastructure agreeing to take on the job of renovating the Denver airport.
- Johnson Development CalPers: In 1996, Johnson worked with Victor MacFarlane, the CEO of a real estate investment management and development firm named MacFarlane Partners, to launch a real estate acquisition and management company they called Johnson Development CalPers.
- Jopwell: After just one year in business, staffing company Jopwell received another $3.25 million in seed funding from a group that included Johnson. The firm quickly snagged deals with behemoths like Facebook and Goldman Sachs in an effort to reach a diverse array of job candidates.
- Los Angeles Dodgers: Johnson and Guggenheim Baseball Management reportedly spent $2.15 billion to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. The former basketball player may have used upward of $50 million of his own money to make the deal go through.
- Los Angeles Football Club: Johnson was one of several high-profile co-owners revealed when the formation of the Los Angeles Football Club was formally announced in 2014. While the team didn’t begin playing for several years, stars like Mia Hamm Garciaparra and her husband, Nomar Garciaparra, and actor Will Ferrell were also on board.
- Los Angeles Sparks: Two years after snapping up the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson and many of the same investors also came together to purchase the Los Angeles Sparks, a WNBA team.
- Magic’s 32: As he was still playing for the Lakers, Johnson began exploring his entrepreneurial interests, and one of his earliest projects was a chain of stores called Magic’s 32. The retail locations, which were named after his jersey number, sold clothing and various sports items. The stores only lasted about a year, and apparently the idea cost the athlete hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Magic’s 32 Records: Years after his sporting goods stores shuttered, Johnson launched a record label with almost the same name (though it was later rebranded Magic Johnson Music). R&B singer-songwriter Avant was once signed to the company, and he released at least one album via the firm.
- Magic Johnson Entertainment: Johnson’s company dedicated to producing and releasing movies and TV, Magic Johnson Entertainment, is behind such projects like Brown Sugar, Passing Glory, and he also produced other titles like Obsessed, Where There’s a Will, Dead Tone, and Hair Show, among others.
- Magic Johnson T’s: Just before he retired from playing basketball professionally, Johnson’s T-shirt business, which worked with players to create merchandise with their names, numbers, and likenesses, was doing well. In 1991, Footlocker reportedly spent $2.4 million on products from Magic Johnson’s T’s.
- Magic Johnson Theatres: Perhaps the business that Johnson is best remembered for is his chain of movie theaters. The first location opened in 1995 in Los Angeles after the company was created via a joint venture between Johnson’s investment arm and Sony Pictures Entertainment, through a partnership with Sony-Loews Theatres. Eventually, AMC retained control of the theaters, many of which have been rebranded.
- Magic Workforce Solutions: Through a partnership with Adecco SA, Johnson created Magic Workforce Solutions, which was “created to enhance the growth and culmination of today’s talent to strengthen and groom tomorrow’s workforce into a dynamic, diverse masterpiece," according to the athlete himself.
- Marvel: Johnson was an early investor in something connected to Marvel, as he joined The Marvel Experience, a live event of sorts that allowed fans to experience being a superhero via a 4D motion ride. Johnson came on board as an investor and board member of Hero Ventures, the company behind the experience.
- Mitú: After investing in entertainment verticals aimed specifically at the Black audience, Johnson also expanded his empire with Mitú. The media brand and digital network was founded to raise the voices of Latin content creators.
- Naturade: Johnson invested in this Black-owned company in 2018, which aims to provide “natural plant-based foods and products to urban communities across the nation.”
- OneTeam Partners: In 2020, Johnson used his expertise in the sports world to join OneTeam Partners, which helps athletes “maximize the value of their name, image, and likeness rights.”
- Pepsi: Johnson and entrepreneur Earl G. Graves Sr. came together to purchase an interest in a Washington, D.C.-area PepsiCo bottling operation.
- ShotTracker: Johnson and one-time NBA commissioner David Stern were part of a team that invested $5 million in seed funding for ShotTracker. The company manufactured wearable tech for athletes. The firm’s COO Davyeon Ross said at the time that the startup was “focused on democratizing the use of analytics, making data reliable and available to teams everywhere.”
- Skydio: Johnson was once listed as an investor in Skydio, a drone manufacturer, according to the firm’s website. He was joined in the venture by musician Justin Timberlake, among others.
- SodexoMagic: Founded in 2006, SodexoMagic is a spinoff company of sorts from Sodexo, a food services and facilities management firm. As of 2022, the business’ website says it already employs more than 6,500 people at 1,700 different job sites.
- SonicEnergy: Formerly known as uBeam, Johnson invested in SonicEnergy in 2016 to aid the firm in “developing a wireless charging system that is designed to work via ultrasound,” according to his website.
- Starbucks: One of Johnson’s biggest and best documented projects involved him bringing Starbucks to urban and lower-income areas. He and the coffee giant partnered in 1998 to launch Urban Coffee Opportunities, a separate company that opened 100 locations in cities across the United States. In 2010, he sold his shares in the venture.
- Superheroic: Johnson invested in Superheroic in 2017 in an effort to assist the growing company in its mission to create “products to entertain, delight and surprise every child in the world through physical, interactive and imaginative play,” which at one point included a “data-informed sneaker.”
- Team Liquid: Already a part-owner of sports teams in basketball and baseball, Johnson clearly had an interest in the growing industry, and he continued to expand his portfolio in 2016 by snapping up a controlling interest in esports brand Team Liquid alongside co-owners of the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Wizards.
- TGI Fridays: In the late ’90s, Johnson opened at least one TGI Fridays franchise.
- TopGolf: In 2016, Johnson furthered his investments in sports and adjacent industries by becoming involved in TopGolf, which has been described as “like a driving range, arcade, restaurant, bar and nightclub all rolled up into one.”
- Uncharted Power: In 2016, Johnson was part of the Series A funding round for Uncharted Power, which is working to deploy smart technologies connected to energy use and generation in cities around the world. Three years later, he officially joined the board, and the announcement was made in 2020.
- Uncle Bud’s: Johnson became a financial partner to Uncle Bud’s in 2020. The company is a producer of hemp and CBD products that are available at thousands of retailers.
- Vibe: Johnson, his own company, and another that he’s involved with, The Yucaipa Companies, invested in Vibe Holdings LLC in 2011 in a move that saw the former basketball powerhouse named chairman of the conglomerate, which includes brands like Vibe, Uptown Magazine, and Soul Train.
- Walker & Co. brands: In 2015, Johnson invested in Walker & Co. brands, which claims its goal is to “build the world’s most consumer-centric health and beauty products company, inspiring unprecedented consumer loyalty” and to “make health and beauty simple for people of color,” according to the firm’s website.
- Washington Mutual: Johnson worked with Washington Mutual, a bank and savings and loan association, to open new locations in minority and urban communities. At one point, he was connected to at least 26 different storefronts, though they may have all closed.
- Yucaipa Johnson Corporate Initiatives Growth Fund: Johnson is connected to the Yucaipa Johnson Corporate Initiatives Growth Fund (his name is right there, after all), which is described as a “private equity growth fund focusing on strategic investments in companies located in and/or serving America’s under-served markets. With over $500 million in capital, the fund also provides capital for suppliers in its corporate partners’ supply chains requiring growth capital to support the organization on a larger scale.”
What Is Magic Johnson’s Net Worth?
From his salary as a basketball player to endorsements and on-camera opportunities to his many, many businesses and investments, Johnson has earned millions in many different ways, and he’s still making huge sums of money to this day. At present, his net worth is estimated to be $620 million by Celebrity Net Worth.