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NBA legend Magic Johnson makes history as the fourth Black owner of an NFL team: 'Breaking barriers'

Legendary Magic Johnson adds another laurel by becoming a minority owner of the Washington Commanders.

NBA legend Magic Johnson makes history as the fourth Black owner of an NFL team: 'Breaking barriers'
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Leon Bennett

Magic Johnson continues to break barriers and remain an inspiration for his community with his recent achievement. Magic Johnson has now become an owner of an NFL team, per My Modern Met. The deal has amounted to $6.05 billion and the NBA legend has an impressive business portfolio. He has an ownership stake in Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, Dayton Dragons and Los Angeles Sparks. However, his new deal of becoming a minority owner in Washington Commanders is historic because of the lack of diversity in the league.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 20: Earvin
Image Source: Earvin "Magic" Johnson reacts after being introduced as part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 20, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio—Getty Images l Tim Nwachukwu

Washington Commanders in terms of ownership is being led by billionaire Josh Harris. Jonhnson's position as a minority owner is historic as this makes him only the fourth Black owner in the franchise. Recently till 2022 the franchise had no Black owners at all. All this changed when a group comprising of Lewis Hamilton, Condoleezza Rice and Mellody Hobson purchased a team named Denver Broncos. Prior to this, there were only two people of color as owners in the franchise. Alongside the aspect of ownership, there is also a lack of diversity in the coach and executive roles. This statistic is shocking as typically in Football seven out of 10 players are Black.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Magic Johnson Enterprises Chairman and CEO Magic Johnson speaks onstage at the SUPERCHARGED Summit By Kwanza Jones At NeueHouse Hollywood on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for SUPERCHARGED)
Getty Images: Magic Johnson Enterprises Chairman and CEO Magic Johnson speaks onstage at the SUPERCHARGED Summit By Kwanza Jones At NeueHouse Hollywood on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California—Getty Images | Jesse Grant

The glaring racial disparity in the league came into the limelight in 2016 because of the protest by Colin Kaepernick. In March, a Federal Judge agreed that the racial discrimination charges brought by former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores against the league had credibility to move forward. The judge also made the impactful statement that the experience of Flores showcases that the league has a “long history of systematic discrimination toward Black players, coaches, and managers—are incredibly troubling.” After the criticism the league has been trying to inculcate diversity within the system but it is still difficult for People of Color to break through the barriers of the league.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 15: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates winning a 7th F1 World Drivers Championship on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Turkey at Intercity Istanbul Park on November 15, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Image Source: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates winning a 7th F1 World Drivers Championship on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Turkey at Intercity Istanbul Park on November 15, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey—Getty Images | Bryn Lennon

Therefore the role of minority owners held by Johnson, Hamilton, Rice and Hobson is impactful. Still, the presence of a Black individual as a primary owner in the league seems a far-fetched dream. The reasoning behind this has been cited to be the wealth gap between white and people of color at the Billionaire level. In order to become a primary owner a lot of money is required and out of the 2,668 billionaires in the world, only 15 are Black, per Forbes. Therefore, the number of Black individuals who can become primary owners is very small.



 

Magic Johnson is aware of the mammoth step that is his becoming a minority owner and said in his interview with Today, "Breaking these barriers and going through these doors is important for me. 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.”

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