There’s a rumor swirling around that claims Michael Jordan is in advanced talks to sell his majority stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. Michael currently owns 80% of the Hornets. He is the ONLY black majority team owner in the NBA.
Michael first bought a stake in the Hornets in 2006, though at the time they were called the Bobcats. He increased his stake up to 80% in 2010, when he bought out original majority owner, BET founder Robert L. Johnson. The team was officially renamed the Hornets in 2014.
Even without having a particularly impressive record since 2010, the value of the Hornets has skyrocketed under Jordan’s ownership. So, if the sale rumors are true, Michael’s financial windfall will make him the undisputed financial GOAT of GOATS.
Before we go any further, let me clarify something that will help with the rest of the article: There has been a team called the Hornets in the NBA since 1988. In 2002 the NBA created a new team in Charlotte called the Bobcats. That same year, the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans. Ahead of the 2014-2015 season, the New Orleans Hornets became the Pelicans and the Charlotte Bobcats became the Hornets.
Johnson Passes TO MJ
Robert L. Johnson became the first African American majority owner of a major professional sports team in the United States when he was awarded the NBA expansion team, the Charlotte Bobcats (now known as the Charlotte Hornets), in December 2002.
Just two years earlier, Johnson earned a $1 billion fortune when he sold BET to Viacom for $3 billion.
Unfortunately, just as Robert was finalizing the Hornets deal, he and his wife were not on great terms. They eventually divorced and Robert agreed to pay Sheila Johnson a $400-500 million settlement, roughly half of his net worth at the time.
In 2006 Michael Jordan’s net worth was $450 million. And that’s AFTER he paid ex-wife Juanita Jordan a $168 million divorce settlement. His net worth at that time was almost entirely attributable to his Nike/Jordan brand royalties.
In 2006 Michael bought a minority stake in the Bobcats from Robert L. Johnson.
In 2010 Michael bought out Robert entirely to become the team’s majority owner. The price he paid in 2010 for roughly 90% of the team?
Put another way, in 2010 Michael’s acquisition valued the Hornets (then called the Bobcats) at $233 million total overall.
Over the years Michael sold off small portions of his Hornets equity, reducing his ownership down to 80%. One of the primary buyers has been a hedge fund manager named Gabe Plotkin. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Gabe is the founder of a hedge fund called Melvin Capital. Melvin was the primary target of a group of reddit meme “stonk” traders who orchestrated the legendary 2021 Gamestop short squeeze.
Gabe’s hedge fund may have been murdered, but apparently his own personal finances managed to survive the attack because he is now the leading investor in the rumored buyout of Michael’s Hornets ownership.
How Much Are The Hornets Worth?
The short answer:
And that’s a conservative minimum. As a comp, in December the Phoenix Suns were acquired for $4 billion.
The league’s most-valuable team, the Golden State Warriors, are worth around $8 billion.
How Much Will Michael Make?
Let’s assume the Hornets sell for $2 billion. That would mean an 80% stake would be worth $1.6 billion. Let’s assume between purchase costs and other operational costs Michael has spent $250 million over his years as owner. That leaves $1.35 billion in taxable gains. Michael’s primary residence is Florida, which does not have a state tax. After my quick napkin math, Michael will clear around…
That’s $1.1 billion after taxes direct deposited into his bank account. For a team that has made the playoffs just three times under his 17 seasons of ownership (losing in the first round each time) and only had four total seasons with winning records. Even with that performance, he’ll walk away with a bit more than a billi profit. If this doesn’t cement Michael’s status as the GOAT of all GOATS, nothing will.