Billionaire BET Founder Bob Johnson Wasn't Allowed to Check In at Florida Hotel

President and founder of BET Bob Johnson speaks onstage at the BET Awards ‘05 at the Kodak Theatre on June 28, 2005 in Hollywood, California.
President and founder of BET Bob Johnson speaks onstage at the BET Awards ‘05 at the Kodak Theatre on June 28, 2005 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

A Florida resort helped America’s first black billionaire set a new world record when they assisted him with becoming the first black person to ask for the police to be called on himself after the luxury hotel denied him entry because he was black wearing sunglasses.


On Aug. 24, in an attempt to stop the nationwide epidemic of fraudsters making reservations in their name and then showing up with matching credit cards and identification, Eau Palm Beach hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., told BET founder Robert Johnson that they couldn’t allow him to check into the hotel until he removed his prescription sunglasses, according to WPBF, who spoke with a man they claim was Johnson. (Although it is unclear if they verified his identity by asking him to remove his Ray-Bans.)

The Black Entertainment Television founder said he gave the woman his driver’s license, passport and American Express card, but the woman at the desk insisted that he remove his corrective lenses before she could check him in, claiming it was hotel policy. (The Root reached out to Johnson for comment. We’ll update if he responses.)

“She said,well, I can’t check you in if you don’t take off your glasses,’” Johnson’s shades-wearing doppelganger said, explaining that he thought the clerk was kidding at first, so he asked that she call the police.

She called the police.

Records show that the police actually showed up, WPBF reports, but we could not verify whether the man was impersonating an officer, as he was wearing sunglasses. The two parties could not reach a compromise, so the man whose ID, credit card, license plate and passport said was Bob Johnson left.

“I think it’s a silly rule and I think it has overtones of racial profiling,” Johnson said.

The hotel, in defending itself, said that in spite of Johnson’s three forms of identification and the fact that criminals involved in elaborate identity theft operations rarely ask for the police to get involved, stood by the actions of its employee.


“It is standard operating procedure in the industry to ask to make sure that the person who is presenting themselves to check-in and they present identification that it does match and if they’re wearing dark glasses with a ball cap low over their face, you want to make sure that it is the same person, much like what would happen at TSA rules going through the airport” said spokesperson Nick Gold.

While nothing in the report says Bob Johnson was wearing a ball cap low over his face, it is important to know that this man who claims to be Bob Johnson only owns 165 hotels, so he might not be very familiar with hotel protocol. But you’ve got to give it to white people’s ability to double down on the rules at their discretion.


“All guests are welcome here at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa and we pride ourselves on how we treat our guests,” Gold said. “We’d love for him to come back.”

Johnson said he will never visit again.

But as the golden rule states: “He who has all the gold, makes the rules... Unless he’s black. In which case, be very suspicious...”


He’s probably trying to steal our gold.

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Pretty Terry

I get it though. I was like 30 before I could tell the difference between Clark Kent and Superman. Glasses can make you be anyone.

And throw in some tints?! Bob Johnson or Unabomber? Who can tell?