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“Can You Imagine? 45 Years…. $5 Billion”: $620 Million Worth Magic Johnson Still Reminisces Missing Out on Michael Jordan’s Billionaire Success

Published 01/17/2023, 5:10 PM EST

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Very few athletes go on to have a retirement earning more than what they earned during their careers. Among the scant few, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson stands tall as one of the wealthiest NBA players ever. The 5x NBA champion had a Hall of Fame career, but it was cut short due to complications outside the court. Regardless, the former MVP achieved immense success soon after retirement from the league.

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However, $620 million later, Johnson still regrets not going in on a deal that made Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan a Billionaire.

Magic Johnson recalls his mistake that cost him $5 billion


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Even before coming to the NBA, Magic Johnson had already built a name for himself in the amateurs. Moreover, he was also expected to go no.1 overall after Michigan State beat the Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird to win the national championship. After a stellar performance in the Finals, Johnson became a hot commodity for companies to offer a deal. Likewise, the big names, Adidas and Converse came and pitched their offer to a young Johnson. However, along with those established players, an up-and-coming company called ‘Nike’ also made their offer. But they couldn’t afford to make a cash settlement because they were just two years in business. Thus they offered Johnson and his family a portion of the company stock.

After weighing his options and due to his lack of knowledge on the subject matter, 19-year-old Johnson opted for the $100,000 Converse offered and rejected both Adidas and Nike’s offer. Fast forward 40 years to the present day, and it turned out to be the costliest mistake of his life. Nike became a global brand worth billions of dollars. Moreover, if he had accepted the offer, Johnson’s shares would have been worth well over $5 Billion in the present day.


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In his recent appearance on All the Smoke podcast hosted by Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, the Lakers legend harped on the same. He reflected and sighed, “…Converse offered me the most money so, when you grow up broke, you take the money! So Phil Knight came and said, ‘I can’t offer you the money, but I could offer you stock” and I didn’t know nothing about it…So I passed on the stocks, can you imagine, 45 years and $5 Billion.” 

“I Make Money When People Are Sleeping”: Richer Than Shaquille O’Neal, $620 Million Worth Magic Johnson Gives a Sneak Peak Into Massive Wealth

Needless to say, the Hall of Famer regrets the decision to this day. However, another All-time legend didn’t make the same mistake as Johnson.


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Michael Jordan and Nike

A young athlete from North Carolina accepted the deal Johnson rejected a few years later; and as they say, the rest is history. The Chicago Bulls legend’s partnership with Nike became the one of the most lucrative partnerships of all time, making him the wealthiest athlete of all time

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The 6x NBA champion is currently worth $1.7 Billion. 


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Written by:

K Shrijith


One take at a time

K Shrijith is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing his BBA degree, Shrijith has a keen interest in the world of finance. In fact, he has past experience in equity research and writing research reports on the subject of finance.
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Edited by:

Satagni Sikder