Bob Johnson and Michael Jordan

Bob Johnson Nearing Grade F Model Territory?

by Minority Fortune

Things have been quiet on the Bob Johnson territory for some time now. While Bob Johnson was the first African American to become a billionaire, he has since lost his title and failed to grow his wealth. The Daily Beast even reports that Bob Johnson has been so pressed for funds that he sold his ownership in the Charlotte Bobcats to his employee Michael Jordan for mere pennies of his investment. He was initially looking to sell the team for about $350 million but ended up handing the franchise over for a shocking $25 million in cash!

Several sources are reporting that Johnson is strapped for money. His money is tied up in complicated investments, leaving him with little liquidity to maintain the upkeep on his investments.

Indeed, three sources specifically involved with the team sale said Johnson was eager to ink a deal before an upcoming interest payment on the team’s $40 million in bank debt, so he could save the cash, even though it was only for a few million dollars. That, combined with the deal’s terms, suggests that Johnson is dangerously close to being illiquid.

To be honest, we’re disappointed in this news. For one, we’re always sad to see people regress who have great accomplishments under their belt. Second, BET (Black Entertainment News) was sold to Viacom in 2000 for $3 billion. We’re surprised to find that Bob hasn’t been able to grow his wealth the way that most early billionaires do.


Sure, Bob has a few excuses under his belt for not already being a multi-billionaire:

  • Money Tied Up: Bob Johnson has his money heavily allocated in investments that require upfront maintenance costs, like hotels, gaming, and films. Another portion of his wealth is tied into Viacom’s stocks, which have lost value since the acquisition.
  • Divorce: A few years after the Viacom acquisition and shortly after Bob Johnson’s billionaire status, he experienced a costly divorce with his wife. It was so costly that he parted with over $400 million of his wealth. Since there were rumors that the divorce was caused by Bob’s cheatings ways, it looks as if this costly action could have been avoided if Bob Johnson had used common sense (See: Tiger Wood’s Post on His Divorce Settlement).

However, they’re still not great excuses as fellow billionaires that gained wealth after he did are already doubling their worth (Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerburg, etc.). We’re not regretful for covering the great accomplishments that Bob Johnson has made in the past. However, we will not make excuses for his recent actions. We sincerely hope that Bob’s status will not be downgraded to Grade F territory! It will do the community no good.

*Image courtesy of Black Voices.
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