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Magic Johnson Missed Out On Estimated $5 Billion By Not Signing With Nike

Magic Johnson Missed Out On Estimated $5 Billion By Not Signing With Nike

The basketball star's story is the subject of a new HBO series

Magic Johnson is by no means strapped for cash – but he could've been a hell of a lot richer if it wasn't for one bad call.

The basketball legend has gone on to achieve huge success as an entrepreneur since his retirement from the game, but when he was just starting out in his career he didn't have the business acumen he has now.

His fateful decision to not sign with Nike many decades ago has been retold in new HBO series, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.

Watch the trailer here:

In 1979, when the big man was just a teenager, Nike founder Phil Knight offered him a shoe deal.

Nowadays, any young athlete would see dollar signs if Nike came along with a contract, but at the time the company was in its infancy and instead of offering Magic a boatload of cash, Knight offered him stocks.

Back then, this didn't seem as enticing as the $100,000 (£79,703) on the table from Converse, so Magic turned down Knight.

But with retrospect, this was pittance compared to what he could've made with the stocks.

A graphic in an episode of Winning Time states that Magic – real name Earvin – lost out on an estimated $5.2 billion (£4.14 billion). Ouch.

The exact figure has been disputed, as it's not clear just how many stocks he was offered, but business magazine Inc. calculates that even if he was given just $10,000 (£7,970) worth of Nike stock, it would be worth more than $1 billion (£797 million) today.

Reflecting on the misstep in 2019, Magic told Yahoo Finance: "I was 19 years old, just won that national championship after beating Larry Bird and I was about to sign a shoe deal.

"Converse came in and everyone at that time was wearing Converse because of Dr. J.

"So Converse came in and offered me some money. And then this guy named Phil Knight came in, and Nike was only like one or two years old.

"He said he doesn't have a lot of money but will offer me stock. I was 19, didn't know a lot. And, so the rest is history."

Naturally, the 62-year-old is still very much haunted by the decision.

Speaking on The Ellen Show, he said: "Boy, did I make a mistake. I'm still kicking myself.

"Every time I'm in a Nike Store, I get mad.

"I could have been making money off of everybody buying Nikes right now."

So remember folks, if you ever get the opportunity to have a shoe deal with Nike, just do it.

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Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Celebrity, Sport, Basketball