Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is opening up about a time where he missed out on the ultimate business deal.

During a conversation on the “All The Smoke” podcast with cohosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Johnson explained how he missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Nike by opting for what seemed like a more instant, secure deal with Converse early on in his career.

A Missed Opportunity

“So, here I am, just winning the National Championship against Larry Bird, and three companies came in; Converse, adidas, and Nike,” Johnson recalled. “Nike was just a year or two old. Converse offered me the most money.”

He continued: “So you know when you grow up broke, take the money. Phil Knight came in and said, ‘Hey, I can’t offer you the same type of money. But I can offer you stock.’”

The year that Johnson turned down the opportunity to sign with Nike was 1979. Today, besides being one of the leading athletic companies across the globe, the company is now worth $5.2 billion.

The Lesson Learned

“My family didn’t come from money,” Johnson noted. “That hurt us sometimes when you don’t come from money. I didn’t even know what stocks was at the time. So, I passed on the stocks. Can you imagine? 45 years and $5 billion of stock.”

Luckily, for Johnson, his business mindset led him to even better opportunities.

The Lakers legend recently opened up about “living in an answered prayer” after becoming the new co-owner of the NFL’s Washington Commanders thanks to a historic $6.05 billion deal.


Today, he maintains ownership across four professional sports leagues — the MLB, MLS, WNBA, and NFL.

What’s more, Johnson is considered to be one of the richest athletes in the world because of his smart investments and business moves.

From launching his Magic Johnson Enterprises in 1995 to his expansion across various ventures including health clubs, movie theaters, real estate, and beyond, he has quickly become the blueprint for all athletes looking to build a legacy outside of their respective sports.