Magic Johnson Made A $5.2B Mistake Choosing Converse Over Nike Early In His Career

There is always a time when we wish to go back in time to alter a situation that would greatly benefit us if we had known at the time. For NBA Hall of Famer Earvin Magic Johnson, it was a crucial point in his young career when he decided to forgo a partnership with a budding Nike company.

According to Sports Illustrated, The Los Angeles Lakers legend would be $5.2 billion richer if he had signed a sneaker endorsement deal with Nike instead of going with their competitor at the time, Converse.

In an episode aired in early 2023 of All The Smoke featuring former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Johnson admitted to his fellow retirees that his decision to sign with Converse was due to the available money the company had at the time. Meanwhile, Nike, a growing company trying to make waves, offered the successful businessman stocks in the fledging company. The stocks Johnson would have received then are worth a reported $5.2 billion today.

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

“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’.”

Johnson also revealed that coming from a poor background and not knowing anything about stocks, it was the correct decision at the time.

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

Although he may regret not choosing Nike, we can be assured that the new minority owner of the Washington Commanders has made many wise choices and is undoubtedly one of the most successful athletes-turned-businessmen.