As we’ve been documenting here at The Root for a while now, Ebony Magazine has been going through it.
From involuntary bankruptcy filings, to forcibly removing Willard Jackson as its CEO, to website outages, a class-action lawsuit, and even taking us to court—SPOILER WARNING: They lost—it’s been a gruesome couple of years for the once-proud publication. And in the latest turn of events, it appears that the embattled magazine will have a new owner, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bridgeman Sports and Media, owned by retired Milwaukee Bucks forward Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, placed the winning bid on Ebony Media’s assets in a Houston bankruptcy court on Friday. That $14 million bid is expected to be approved by a federal bankruptcy judge Tuesday and could offer the struggling publication renewed life.
For those curious about Bridgeman, he retired in 1987 after 12 seasons in the NBA and built his enormous wealth—an estimated $600 million—by becoming a fast-food restaurant franchisee. At one point, he owned over 160 restaurants before he sold them off in 2017 in order to launch Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which produces, sells, and distributes “the highest quality and best-tasting beverages in the world.” Its distribution territory includes Missouri, Kansas, and Southern Illinois.
In 2019, Bridgeman tried to muscle his way into the editorial world by attempting to acquire Sports Illustrated but was unsuccessful. This time around, however, it appears that the 67-year-old has emerged triumphant.
As we previously reported at The Root, on June 15, 2016, Texas-based private equity firm CVG Group announced that it had acquired Ebony Media—which includes both Ebony and Jet magazines—and that it would be managing the operations of both going forward. However, since doing so, CVG has repeatedly failed to compensate employees and freelancers and has run into myriad problems attempting to keep the company afloat.
Based on his track record alone, Bridgeman might be the one to finally correct course. So we’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops.