After being selected first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1979 NBA draft, Magic Johnson was approached by all the major shoe companies offering endorsement deals and one fledgling brand still trying to find its footing in the industry. A young Phil Knight, who had just started a tiny little brand called Nike, also offered Johnson a deal. On Wednesday, Johnson stopped by Ellen and talked about his biggest business regret: turning Knight down.
“All the other companies offered me money, but they [Nike] couldn’t offer me money because they just started. So he said something about stocks: ‘I’m gonna give you a lot of stocks.’ I didn’t know nothin’ about stocks,” Johnson said.
Johnson has been extremely successful since leaving the NBA. He’s built a business empire that includes, among other ventures, restaurants, movie theaters, and part ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. But passing on that Nike stock all those years ago still gets him.
“Boy, did I make a mistake,” Johnson said. “I’m still kicking myself. Every time I’m in a Nike store I get mad.”
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