Thursday December 7, 2023

Former NBA Player Buys Ebony Media

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Former NBA forward Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman is the new owner of legacy Black media company Ebony after bidding $14 million for it in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

His company, Bridgeman Sports and Media, was announced as the successful bidder for Ebony Media’s assets by a Houston bankruptcy court in December.

With the purchase, Bridgeman becomes the latest athlete with ownership in a media company. 

  • Former MLB star Derek Jeter founded The Players’ Tribune in 2014. 
  • Spanish soccer player David Villa founded soccer content production company Designated Player in 2018.
  • LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are among the handful of NBA players who have their own production companies.

Despite Ebony’s recent financial woes — it defaulted on more than $10 million in loans in July — Bridgeman believes he can return it to both profitability and a place of prominence in American culture with “the right ideas and the right execution.” The monthly lifestyle magazine launched in 1945. 

Bridgeman, 67, has flourished as a businessman since retiring in 1987. 

  • He once owned more than 240 restaurant franchises, making him the second-largest franchise owner in the U.S., employing 18,000 people.
  • He sold his restaurant interests and in 2017 launched Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co. 
  • He briefly owned a minority stake in the Sacramento Kings. 

In late 2018, Bridgeman and a group of investors were considered the leading contenders to buy Sports Illustrated from Meredith Corp., but dropped the efforts in early 2019 when now-owner Authentic Brands Group made a $110 million bid.

Bridgeman’s net worth is estimated to be around $600 million.

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