Yesterday, during a discussion of various & sundry subjects, my best friend and I talked about Donald Sterling’s criticism of Magic Johnson. According to Sterling, Magic is not a good role model for minority kids because of his AIDS status. The media jumped to defend Johnson and quickly pointed out that Sterling was once again ignorant because Johnson had HIV, but not AIDS.
That point is what is sometimes called a distinction without a difference. Yes, HIV is not AIDS, but Sterling’s criticism was based, not on Johnson’s particular affliction, but rather on Johnson’s admittedly promiscuous NBA lifestyle while being married and with children.
The media also asserted that Johnson was arguably the most successful black businessman in America. My friend and I were both dubious about that assertion, with my friend suggesting that Johnson was not super-wealthy and that his ownership interest in the LA Dodgers was nominal, like that of George W. Bush’s previously in the Texas Rangers. I agreed that Johnson was not super-wealthy, but suggested that both he and W. had invested several million dollars in their teams. I also volunteered to learn the facts so we could quit speculating.
The facts regarding Magic as the most successful black businessman in America:
- According to an authoritative website, Magic is #7 on the list of wealthy African-Americans, with $500 million. Of those with more money – Mariah Carey, Robert Johnson, Sean Combs, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Oprah Winfrey – only Robert Johnson is a businessman in the traditional sense. The others are popular entertainers who capitalized on their ability to entertain. Incidentally, Oprah is the only billionaire in the group and she has $2.6 billion. There are seven other black billionaires worldwide, with most of them from Nigeria.
Regarding Magic’s interest in the LA Dodgers, according to Yahoo.com, Magic invested $50 million, which amounts to 2.3% of the $2.15 billion purchase price. The controlling partner is Kirk Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Capital. By contrast, according to ESPN.com, George W. Bush invested only $600,000 in the Rangers, and this amounted to 1.8% equity. But he also served as the managing partner who increased the value of the franchise to $250 million when it was sold in 1998, and a bonus clause increased his payout from a little more than $4 million to $14.9 million.
Incidentally, my best friend thought that George H.W. Bush was much richer than W., but that was wrong. According to Wikipedia, Bush-41 has $23 million while Bush-43 has $20 million. Career politicians who started poor and end up rich include LBJ at $98 million and Bill Clinton at $55 million. Hmmm.