NBA Hall of Famer Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson is a billionaire, according to new reporting by Forbes (Magic Johnson Is Now A Billionaire by Matt Craig), becoming only the fourth professional athlete to reach the benchmark following a lucrative post-basketball career as an investor in professional sports teams, movie theatres, Starbucks cafes and a health insurance provider.
Johnson, who retired from the NBA in 1991 after being diagnosed with HIV, owns a minority stake in the NFL’s Washington Commanders, following billionaire Josh Harris’ $6.05 billion purchase of the team in May.
The 64-year-old Johnson also owns stakes in a trio of Los Angeles professional sports franchises, including the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the MLS’ LAFC.
Forbes now estimates his net worth to be $1.2 billion—the result of his stakes in those teams, and major investments in a slate of industries, including a 60% stake in Iowa-based life insurance company EquiTrust he purchased in 2015.
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 revenues of roughly $2.6 billion.
Over the past three decades, Johnson has launched a chain of movie theaters in a partnership with Loews, setting up theaters in predominantly Black neighborhoods 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 neighborhoods.
The 12-time NBA All-Star also owns a minority stake in a PepsiCo bottling plant outside Washington D.C. he purchased in a $60 million deal with investor Earl Graves in 1990.
The Lakers chose Johnson as the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft, after he led the Michigan State Spartans to the NCAA championship, defeating career rival Larry Bird’s Indiana State.
Johnson went on to play his entire professional career in Los Angeles, where he was a three-time MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP, as part of a dominant 1980s Lakers team that won five championships between 1980 and 1988. Following the 1990-1991 NBA season, Johnson tested positive for HIV, the deadly virus that leaves the immune system compromised and can lead to AIDS if untreated.
In a press conference on November 7, 1991, the NBA legend announced his immediate retirement from the game, vowing to “battle this deadly disease” and become a spokesperson for HIV prevention. After four years off the court, Johnson returned for the 1995-1996 season, playing 32 games for the Lakers, before retiring after the season.
Johnson is only the fourth professional athlete Forbes has identified as a billionaire, following NBA legends Michael Jordan and LeBron James, as well as golfer Tiger Woods, though Johnson’s income comes primarily off the court. He made a total of $40 million from his Lakers’ career (roughly $110 million after adjusted for inflation)—well short of the $479 million James has earned since joining the league in 2003.
$136 million. That’s how much soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo earned both on and off the field between May 2022 and May 2023, making him the world’s highest-paid athlete, according to Forbes.