Facts about Robert Johnson
Robert L. Johnson Biography
Robert L. Johnson founded and was the first CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET). In 2001 he was named by Forbes magazine as the world’s first Black billionaire.
Robert Johnson grew up in Illinois and earned a graduate degree in international affairs from Princeton University. In the early 1970s, Johnson found himself in Washington, D.C. during the early expansion of cable television. After a few years as a lobbyist for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Johnson borrowed money to start his own cable brand, BET. Launched in 1980, it was profitable within five years.
In the early ’90s, BET became the first Black-controlled company to be traded publicly on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1998, Johnson bought the business back — then sold it to Viacom in 2001, pocketing a reported $1.5 billion himself and retaining his position as chairman and CEO.
In 2002, Robert L. Johnson became the first black majority owner of an NBA franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). Johnson sold his interest in the franchise to NBA star Michael Jordan in 2010.
Robert L. Johnson serves on the boards of several organizations and corporations, and in 2015 he launched a television streaming service called the Urban Movie Channel (later called Allblk).
Robert Johnson and his wife, Sheila Johnson, divorced in 2002 after 33 years of marriage. Sheila remarried in 2005 (to the judge who presided over her divorce) and by 2017 was reported to be worth $750 million… Robert Johnson married Lauren Wooden in 2016 after five years of dating. He was 70 and she was 37 when they married.