Robert L. Johnson Net Worth

Net Worth:$650 Million
Date of Birth: April 8, 1946 (78 years old)
Height:1.75 m
Profession:Entrepreneur, and Businessperson
Nationality:United States of America

What is Robert L. Johnson s Net Worth

Robert L. Johnson is an American investor, businessperson, and executive who has a net worth of $650 million. He is well-recognized in 1980, as the co-founder of the cable channel BET alongside Sheila Johnson his wife.

He established the asset management company RLJ Companies and, from 2002 to 2010, he held a controlling ownership stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

With the sale of BET to Viacom in 2001, Johnson became the first African-American to hold the title of a billionaire.

In 1980, he founded Black Entertainment Television (BET). The first significant television network targeted at African-Americans was BET. BET was the first black-controlled business to debut on the NYSE in 1991.

For $3 billion, Viacom purchased BET in 2000. In 2006, Johnson left the business. He later founded the RLJ Companies, a holding firm with a broad range of business interests.

He became the first African-American majority owner of a significant American sports team in 2002 when he acquired the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. In 2010, he gave Michael Jordan the majority of his shares.


Robert L. Johnson was born on April 8, 1946, in Hickory, Mississippi as the ninth of ten children of farmer Archie and schoolteacher Edna. When he was a kid, he moved with his family to Freeport, Illinois.


As a young adult, Johnson went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, from which he graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies.

He subsequently attended Princeton University as a graduate student, earning a master’s degree in public affairs in 1972.

Starting a Career

Johnson began his career in television as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s director of public affairs after receiving his degree from Princeton.

He was also the National Urban League’s director of communications in Washington, DC, a civil rights organization. Johnson later worked as Representative Walter E. Fauntroy’s press secretary.

Later, after making a comeback, he joined the National Cable and Television Association as vice president of government relations.

RLJ Businesses

Johnson established the Bethesda, Maryland-based asset management company RLJ Companies in 2002, a year after becoming a multibillionaire.

A variety of assets, including hotel real estate, private equity, insurance services, car dealerships, and sports and entertainment franchises, are included in the company’s portfolio.

RLJ Company also has offices in Little Rock, Arkansas, Charlotte, North Carolina, Los Angeles, California, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Monrovia, Liberia, in addition to its Bethesda headquarters.


Johnson began the BET cable television channel in 1980 after leaving the NCTA in 1979. It was the first cable channel to air only on Friday nights and was targeted specifically at African-Americans.

In 1983, BET finally achieved full independence as a standalone channel. A profit was made for the first time two years later.

BET is the first business owned and operated by black people to list on the New York Stock Exchange when it went public in 1991.

The channel significantly increased its reach in the years that followed, creating digital cable networks and a multiplex service in a partnership with Starz.

BET’s position as a black-owned company was abolished when media conglomerate Viacom bought it for $3 billion in 2001.

Ownership of NBA Teams

In late 2002, Robert L. Johnson entered the realm of professional sports team ownership by leading a group that acquired majority ownership of the newly named Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA.

This made him the first African-American majority owner of any major professional sports team in the US since the time of the Negro leagues.

It is worth noting that Nelly, the hip-hop artist, became a co-owner. After the Bobcats achieved their first-ever winning season in 2010, Johnson sold his majority venture in the team to Michael Jordan.

Other Business Projects

Johnson established Axiom Bank in Maitland, Florida, among his many other business endeavors. He has also served on various boards of directors, including those of KB Home, Think Finance, Lowe’s Companies, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Hilton Hotels, and General Mills.

Back in the television realm, Johnson established his own video-on-demand streaming platform called Urban Cinema Channel in 2014.

It is run by AMC Networks and was developed to provide original movies and television shows targeted at African-American people. The channel’s name was changed to Allblk at the beginning of 2021.


Johnson married his co-founding partner in BET, Sheila Johnson, in 1969. Their marriage produced two children, and in 2002, they got divorced.

Sheila Johnson later established Salamander Hospitality, which encompasses a collection of resorts and golf courses. She also got into the business of owning sports teams, having ownership interests in the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the NBA’s Washington Wizards, and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

Lauren Wooden, a student who is 33 years his junior, and Johnson started dating in 2010. A divorce was finalized in 2020 after a 2016 wedding.


In order to help the Bahamas prepare for hurricanes, Johnson teamed up with actor Morgan Freeman in 2011. He launched a neckwear brand the year after to raise money for the nonprofit Malaria No More.

The Liberia Business Development Fund, which Johnson established to aid Liberian businesspeople, is among his other charitable initiatives.

Robert and Sheila Johnson Divorce Settlement

Robert and Sheila Johnson tied the knot in 1969 and were married until 2002 when they divorced. As part of the divorce settlement, Robert paid Sheila a whopping $400 million, which ranks among the top 10 most expensive divorce settlements in history.

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While we always strive to ensure that our figures are as accurate as possible, please note that they are only estimates, unless otherwise indicated.

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