Vinnie Johnson only made $5 million in his 14-year NBA career, but he’s now one of the richest current or former athletes in the entire world. How did a sixth man build up such a massive fortune that it put him equal to Shaquille O’Neal with a $400 million net worth?
Vinnie Johnson was a fan favorite during his NBA playing career
Johnson may not have made a fortune in his NBA career, but he was one of the best sixth men of the 1980s. He played 14 seasons with the Seattle Supersonics, Detroit Pistons, and San Antonio Spurs. Nicknamed “The Microwave,” Johnson was famous for coming off the bench and heating up in a hurry.
His best years in the NBA came with the Pistons. Johnson averaged more than 12 points per game off the bench in five straight seasons for Detroit. He shot better than 44 percent in each of those five seasons.
Johnson was also one of the most dependable players in the league for almost a decade. He played in all 82 regular season games in seven of nine seasons from 1983-1991. The Pistons’ bench star missed just seven games in those nine years.
Johnson was one of the main contributors to Detroit‘s back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. He averaged 17 points per game in the 1989 NBA Finals. He also had two games of 20 or more points in the 1990 Finals.
Johnson had even more success in the business world after basketball
Johnson retired from the NBA in 1992. He had only earned $5 million from his basketball career, so he went right back to work a few years later.
In 1995, Johnson started his own automobile supply company, and he aptly named it the Piston Group. His company was a roaring success from the beginning. The Piston Group soon became the leading supplier of automobile parts to GM, Ford Motor Company, and other major automobile companies.
Johnson started in Detroit and quickly expanded to several locations across the midwest. The Piston Group now has shops in Ohio, Missouri, and Kentucky in addition to Michigan.
The company is now one of the world’s largest minority-owned businesses and earns over $3 billion in annual revenue today. Johnson still serves as the Piston Group’s chairman and CEO. His net worth has grown to a staggering $400 million thanks to his entrepreneurial career.
The Piston Group made Johnson one of the richest athletes alive
Johnson’s $400 million net worth is so large it’s equal to Shaq’s current net worth. It’s even crazier considering O’Neal’s career earnings surpassed $290 million. Johnson would’ve had to play 58 careers to match Shaq’s NBA earnings.
According to Wealthy Gorilla, Johnson is the 20th-richest athlete, current or former, in the entire world. He’s tied with Shaq, Lionel Messi, and Phil Mickelson, all of whom have a $400 million net worth in 2020.
With so many tragic stories of athletes blowing their fortunes on mansions, cars, and jewelry, it’s refreshing to see a success story like Johnson’s. Young athletes should take note of how Johnson took $5 million and built it into a $400 million net worth.