SBD/Issue 112/Sports & Society

CNBC Documentary Examines Rise Of New Black Overclass

James Discusses His Marketing
Endeavors In CNBC Documentary
The Wall Street Journal’s Lee Hawkins' new documentary, “Newbos: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass” debuted last night on CNBC. The special featured Bobcats Owner Bob Johnson, Cavaliers F LeBron James, Cowboys WR Terrell Owens and Angels CF Torii Hunter. Hawkins: “More than ever, young blacks are building great wealth in America. Last year alone, black athletes in the NBA, the NFL and (MLB) earned nearly $4(B). The top 20 hip-hop moguls earned $500(M). That’s $4.5(B) in the hands of a few thousand young black men in one year. They’re doing this by taking more ownership and control over their brands than ever.” James said, “I didn’t want to be 15, 16 years in the NBA and when it was time to retire I’m still 80% basketball and 20% business.” James formed LRMR Marketing in ‘06, and he said he wanted to “start my own company and make my partners the guys that I know, that I can trust.” But Hawkins noted despite the fact LRMR “is now a major force in marketing, attracting hundreds of millions in business, gaining the acceptance of mostly white corporate America remains their greatest challenge.”

NOT COMING FROM BUSINESS BACKGROUND: RNC Genter Capital Management President & CEO Dan Genter said many of these athletes and entertainers “are not coming from a background where they have a support system that’s very business aware, and because of that, they’re thrown into making a lot of decisions very, very quickly.” Hawkins noted Johnson, through his RLJ Companies has created a “platform for future black overclass moguls to rise. At the Bobcats, nearly all of the senior executives are African-American.” Johnson hopes the “dozens of black millionaires he’s created in his career will in turn create opportunities for other rising black powerbrokers to launch joint ventures” (“Newbos: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass,” CNBC, 2/26).

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