How Magic Johnson Uses His Name To Exploit Low-Income Consumers

The former Lakers star has made a business out of his reputation for being a good guy — most notably as the new face of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group. But he’s also got a history of endorsing dodgy products for the working poor.

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With his Los Angeles Dodgers up five games in the National League West, Magic Johnson — also a sought-after motivational speaker and bestselling author — is getting more press than he has in two decades. He says he paid $25 million for his stake in the team, making him one of its smaller equity holders, but he’s still the public face of the franchise, prominent at the ballpark and press conferences announcing big signings. It’s the peak of the entrepreneurial rise that Johnson embarked on when he retired from the NBA for the first time in 1991. He’s done it all with his good guy reputation intact: he’s received accolades for bringing Starbucks into urban areas the company had previously thought would be unprofitable, and he has, of course, done more than anyone to raise awareness about HIV. His company frames its mission statement this way: “Magic Johnson Enterprises serves as a catalyst for driving unparalleled business results for our partners and fostering community/economic empowerment by making available high-quality entertainment, products and services that answer the demands of ethnically diverse urban communities.”

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