In 1980, an upstart business called Nike attempted to attract Magic Johnson, the newest NBA sensation. Because they were short on cash, they offered a stock deal. Johnson went on to sing with Converse, and it’s been believed that the deal he passed up would have earned him a multi-billionaire today. So let’s go back to the late 1970s and early 1980s, but this time we’ll focus on the guy himself and his ascent to popularity in the basketball world.
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Earvin “Magic” Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The former Los Angeles Lakers standout is a five-time NBA Champion and widely regarded as one of the game’s best point guards. The sports drama series ‘Winning Time: The Development of the Lakers Dynasty‘ is on Magic’s rise and importance to the LA Lakers throughout the 1980s. The series covers numerous behind-the-scenes facts of Magic’s early NBA days and meteoric climb to popularity.
During this time, Magic is approached by a then-unknown shoe company, Nike, who offers him a contract. Magic turns down Nike, as viewers of the show are well aware, but what exactly happened in reality?
Did Magic Johnson really turn down a multibillion-dollar deal with the shoe company? Everything you need to know about it is right here!
Is It True That Magic Johnson Turned Down a Nike Deal?
Magic Johnson is approached by Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, an up-and-coming footwear firm founded in 1964, in the sixth episode of ‘Winning Time.’ Magic is in talks with major labels such as Converse, Puma, and Adidas, all of which want him to sign with them. The big names are also willing to pay a lot of money for the rookie’s signature.
Knight, on the other hand, can only offer Johnson a dollar for each shoe sold as well as 100,000 stock options. Magic eventually declines the offer and instead gets a contract with Converse, which will pay him around $100,000 per year.
Knight contacted Johnson to sign for Nike, and the scenario is based on a true occurrence. Johnson revealed on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ that the shoe business wanted to sign him but couldn’t afford to pay him. He was instead offered stock options.
Magic declined Knight’s offer because he didn’t understand how stocks work. Johnson chose Converse instead because his childhood hero Dr. J (Julius Erving) wore the brand during his playing career. Johnson, like the show, signed a contract with Converse in 1979.
What Was the Nike Deal’s Value?
Magic Johnson’s endorsement helped Converse establish a strong brand presence. However, the company’s value has soared in the years since it went public. The corporation is valued at over $200 billion and is credited with transforming the shoe industry. However, when Nike first went public, a single share of the business cost only $0.18.
Despite the fact that the exact number of stock options issued to Magic is unknown, the series shows him as having been offered 100,000. However, because the stock options would have grown over time, calculating the exact value of the contract proposed to Magic is challenging. Nonetheless, according to the series, the agreement would have netted the basketball legend $5.2 billion.
Magic indicated in the interview above that he regrets not signing with Nike. “I’m still kicking myself,” says the narrator. I feel irritated every time I walk into a Nike Store. “Right now, I could have been generating money from everyone buying Nikes,” he remarked.
Magic Johnson Enterprises, on the other hand, did well financially with its many ventures, and its net worth is currently at $600 million. Nike, on the other hand, would take over the NBA and the imaginations of sneakerheads in 1984 when it signed Michael Jordan and released the now-famous Air Jordans.