Magic Johnson Gets Teary-Eyed as He Makes History by Becoming an NFL Team Owner

Magic Johnson

Photo: everett225/Depositphotos

Magic Johnson is once again making history by becoming a minority owner of the Washington Commanders.  The $6.05 billion deal was approved by the NFL last week, allowing the NBA legend to add the football team to his impressive portfolio. Johnson, who won five NBA championships with the Lakers, is also part owner of MBA's Los Angeles Dodgers, WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, and MLS' Los Angeles Football Club.

Johnson's participation in the group led by billionaire Josh Harris is significant because it makes him only the fourth Black owner of an NFL team. In fact, prior to 2022, when the Denver Broncos were purchased by a group that included Lewis Hamilton, Condoleezza Rice, and Mellody Hobson, the NFL had no Black owners and only two owners of color. There is also a lack of Black NFL head coaches and executives, which is particularly shocking for a sport where seven of 10 players are Black.

Issues of racial disparity in the league first came to a head with Colin Kaepernick's protest in 2016. And though the league has started initiatives to encourage diversity, it's been difficult for people of color to break through the glass ceiling into the owner's suite.

In March, a federal judge declared that discrimination charges leveled against the league by former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores could move forward. In the written decision, the judge stated that it was “difficult to understand” how there could be so few Black coaches in a league filled with players who are Black. The judge further wrote that the description by the coaches of their experiences of racial discrimination in a league with a “long history of systematic discrimination toward Black players, coaches, and managers—are incredibly troubling.”

All of this makes the fact that Johnson, as well as Hamilton, Rice, and Hobson, have risen to the level of minority owner a feat. But there's still never been a Black primary owner of an NFL team. Part of that is due to the wealth gap at the billionaire level. It takes extreme wealth to become a primary owner, but out of the 2,668 billionaires in the world, as reported by Forbes, only 15 are Black. The NFL requires a primary owner to have a 30% stake in the team and use no more than $1 billion in debt against the team. This makes the pool of Black billionaires able to front a group to become primary owners very, very small.

Still, Johnson's inclusion as a very visible owner of the Washington Commanders is a positive step. And he's very aware of the significance behind this achievement.

“Breaking these barriers and going through these doors is important for me,” Johnson said during an interview with Today host Craig Melvin. “As a proud Black man—you got me choking up now…this is a great opportunity. I don’t know why God blessed me with these opportunities. But I want to excel, not only for myself and my family but for all African Americans making sure we can see ourselves in these seats. And I want people to know that we can do the job.”

Magic Johnson was ecstatic to become a part owner of the NFL's Washington Commanders.

Watch him get choked up discussing the importance of this moment, which made him just the fourth Black owner of an NFL team.

Magic Johnson: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
h/t: [LATimes]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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